E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952)

Charlotte's Web

Wilbur is a sweet pig with a big problem. He’s, well, a pig. And no matter how delightful of a friend he is to young Fern, the young girl who saves him from a tragic early end, or Charlotte, the spider who lives in the barn, he’s still going to end up as Christmas dinner. That is, unless Charlotte can think of a way to save him. . . .

Confession: I’ve never read this book until now. Yes, I know that makes me a weirdo–who hasn’t read Charlotte’s Web?, you may ask. Well, me, that’s who. However, since it was the winner of the Great Berryville Read and is now officially our town’s favorite book, I decided to remedy my ignorance. And I’m glad I did.

Continue reading “E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952)”


Book Buzz: Unhinged Autobiographical Fiction, an In-Depth Look at the Opioid Crisis, and Leadership Lessons

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For November, we’re looking at a debut highly autobiographical novel about the Iraq War, heroin addiction, and bank robbery; a searing piece of investigative journalism about the opioid crisis in Appalachia; and a much-anticipated history on American presidents.

Nico Walker’s Cherry (2018)


Nico Walker generated a fair amount of buzz this year when his debut novel Cherry hit the shelves. A big part of the story was how hard it was to access the former Army medic and Iraq War veteran for interviews because he’s currently serving time in a penitentiary for bank robbery, crimes he committed while addicted to heroin after his military discharge. It’s hard to know exactly how much of Nico Walker is in the unnamed narrator of this novel, though the surface details of their lives are undeniably similar. I read the book several weeks ago and found Walker a compelling writer, with a darkly ironic style, though I also found the book uneven. It’s at its best when the protagonist is flailing his way through college before his enlistment, during his military service, and during his oddball criminal career. The parts that focus on the character’s descent into drug addiction didn’t strike me as anything particularly unique, though at its best, Cherry is a weirdly funny but heartbreaking read.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Denis Johnson and Flannery O’Connor.

Beth Macy’s Dopesick (2018)


Though Cherry is billed as the first “opioid epidemic novel,” Beth Macy’s Dopesick is a better examination of the topic. I read Macy’s Truevine last year. She’s a talented nonfiction writer, but I thought this new book was far and away superior to Truevine. Dopesick is the result of her years of work as a journalist in Virginia. She probes how the opioid epidemic seemingly cropped up overnight in her own backyard, delving into the corporate history behind it, the sociological and political factors that fed it, and the personal stories of those affected by it. Macy’s book is not light reading, but it an excellent example of book-length, long-form journalism (one of my favorite genres.) It’s a haunted and haunting look at a serious issue in contemporary American life and also delves far more effectively into the concept of community rot than J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Sam Quinones and J.D. Vance.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership in Turbulent Times (2018)


Regardless of your politics, you’re sure to find at least one inspirational president in historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest book. In this discussion of leadership under adversity, Goodwin uses her background as a presidential historian to focus on pivotal moments in American history and the presidents tasked with dealing with these difficult issues. The book includes Abraham Lincoln contending with the Civil War, Theodore Roosevelt dealing with labor disputes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt battling the Great Depression, and Lyndon Baines Johnson guiding the country through the Civil Rights Movement.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of David G. McCullough.

What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information about any of these items.


Everyone Needs A Friend!


I usually write here from my perspective as a staff member at the Berryville Library, but I’m going to switch sides, if you will, for today and write from my perspective as a board member for our Friends of the Berryville Library group.

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Guest Blogger Courtney: 12 Books or Series to Read if You Love Historical Christian Fiction

[Usually blog posts are written by Shirley, Berryville’s library services associate, but today we have a special treat–a guest review written by Courtney, one of our local business owners and fellow book bloggers. She’s guiding us through the world of historical Christian fiction.]

One of my favorite things about reading is learning through story. I believe reading encourages empathy and understanding of humanity with all its flaws and virtues. I also love history. Combine these two, and a reader can learn amazing and lesser-known things about true history and the way people lived in different eras. This is why one of my favorite genres is historical fiction — especially Christian or inspirational fiction because I believe its message of hope and faith to be relevant to life today.

I’m delighted to share a list of historical Christian fiction books that I have read and can highly recommend.

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And the Great Berryville Read winner is . . .

For the past several weeks, we’ve been voting through the Great Berryville Read brackets. Last night, we unveiled our local winner and then watched the countdown for the national vote live at our results party at the library.

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Exploring our Great Berryville Read Finalists

final bracket

While we wait to learn the results for both the Great American Read and Great Berryville Read, I thought it would be interesting to compare notes with the released list of the country’s favorite books with the books that made our Top 10.

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Great Berryville Read Final Bracket


final bracket

It’s The Final Countdown! (Warning: that video perhaps features more 80s hair than you need on a Monday morning. Or perhaps it’s exactly as much 80s hair as you need on a Monday morning. I don’t judge!)

But I do digress! For the past several weeks, we’ve been encouraging people to submit their brackets to help us determine Berryville’s favorite book. We have been keeping track of everyone’s votes, and now we’re going to unveil the final bracket. This features the winners of each round, as well as the next 3 highest-scoring books in the voting.

Since we were doing bracket votes, and we didn’t have the same number of participants every week, we also factored in which books received the highest average number of votes. This required some mathematical calculations, which Julie and Jen were kind enough to provide. (No math-impaired library bloggers were hurt in the making of these brackets.)

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