New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

The Great American Read is an eight-part series on PBS that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience. This summer I will share my reviews on their books.

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“A Separate Peace” by John Knowles

Throughout time, war has a dramatic impact on all life. It especially damages children. They are ripped away from their families and homes and are placed in the midst of chaos, which they may never recover from. In “A Separate Peace,” we read about children living during World War II in New England as their innocence and tranquility is taken from them. “Separate Peace” concerns the relationship between two boys in a privileged prep school. The two roommates are opposites to one another and the best of friends, until a series of tragic events changes each of them. It is a rare book that addresses how two young boys can become both rivals and intimate friends, all the while being educated into a competitive world where men learn to become wary of each other. The mind of a 16-year-old boy can be both confusing and simple at the same time and this book revels in both its complexity and simplicity. It was a very enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it if you’re interested in childhood development or something along those lines. You can find this book in the Adult Fiction section.

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison

Have you ever escaped a dark season in life only to be left with the dark memories from it? You may not be in that dark time anymore but you cannot escape the memories from it. In “Beloved” we read about Sethe, its protagonist, who was born a slave and escaped to Ohio. Eighteen years later, she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened.

“Beloved” is a tough book to read, as it is composed of flashbacks and memories narrated in no chronological order which makes it hard to understand. After a few pages, I almost gave up. I then I realized it would be very interesting to read a renowned novel that contains a poetic examination of slavery. As I was going through the pages I became involved in the story and picturing all the details written by Morrison. The novel explores not just events, but the way we perceive events, through memory, dream like states, hallucinations, how we relate to our dead and or how they may be relating to us. You’ve had events in your own life that you’ve thought about from different angles, events so complex that they never seem to be 100 percent resolved. Read this book to read about another’s dark season and how we too deal with darkness. You can find these books in the Adult Fiction section.

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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