Oddly-Specific Genres: Rugged Romance

“Of course, women don’t like Westerns.”

This statement from a stranger probably triggered one of my more embarrassing social interactions in college.

I don’t know about wherever you went to school, but at my undergraduate college, it wasn’t unusual to find yourself at a cafeteria table of mostly strangers. The following incident was relatively early in my college career, before I realized the importance of coordinating meal schedules with friends and arriving early so that I could avoid the awkwardness of small chat with strangers.

But on this particular day, I didn’t know any better and had found myself in this situation and, as an introvert, I responded by developing a laser-like focus on my plate and ignoring everyone else at the table. I was jarred out of this protective social cocoon when I overheard someone confidently proclaim that “Of course, women don’t like Westerns.”

Now, as a woman who happens to immensely enjoy Westerns–indeed, some of my favorite books, movies, and television shows are Westerns–that broad generalization really infuriated me. And without giving it much further thought or even clarifying context or anything else, I immediately blurted out an unintentionally very confrontational, “Well, I like Westerns!”

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Jennifer Barnes’s The Naturals

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So . . . perhaps you read our Exploring the Fjord Side post and thought, “That Scandinavian crime fiction sure sounds bleak. I don’t know that I want to read something that snowy and brooding.”

In that particular case, perhaps Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Naturals, a gripping but decidedly less brooding (and non-snowy) YA mystery would be a little more to your liking.

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Oddly-Specific Genres: Exploring the Fjord Side

Happy New Year and welcome to the first installment of our new monthly series, Oddly-Specific Genres!

Last year, we hosted the 2016 Library Challenge, which was pretty intense. This year, we decided to take a more relaxed approach and are instead inviting you to step into a new genre in 2017…or really 12 new genres, one per month. And we don’t want people to get bored so we’ve come up with sub-genres, or perhaps sub-sub-genres (what I have termed “oddly-specific genres”) to tempt you to take that plunge. The library will be displaying books in that month’s Oddly-Specific Genre each month, and I will be highlighting some here and on our Facebook page. Read along with us and let us know with your comments on the blog or on our Facebook page. Prizes will be in store for those in the Berryville area that conquer at least 10 of these this year!

As winter begins to take hold, there is no better way to start off than with an escape to the fjord side…yes, you guessed it, Scandinavian murder mysteries, aka Nordic Noir (which just happens to be one of my personal favorites.) I’ve talked about my love for Scandinavian fiction here before, but what I love about the books in this genre are their highly atmospheric settings and their psychological insight. Most of the authors I’ve read in this genre are skilled at combining police procedurals with thrillers, and even though these books can be fast-paced, they also tend to be more character-driven than a lot of other mysteries.

With that being said, let the Scandinavian crime spree commence!

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Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels

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Call me what you will but I LOVE historical fiction. It’s one of my favorite genres.

However, I am one of the first to admit that a lot of historical fiction novelists are much better at writing either the historical aspect or the fictional aspect, but not both. So when I find a work that manages to integrate history and fiction seamlessly and handles both effectively, I consider it a gem. Michael Shaara’s classic The Killer Angels about the Battle of Gettysburg is just such a gem (and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize – maybe I should be a judge?)

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T.J. Stiles’s Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America

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George Armstrong Custer is one of the most controversial figures in American history.

Don’t believe me?

Pick up any book about him or the American West or the American Civil War and see what the authors have to say about him. Some will praise him as a brave but misunderstood genius, some will denigrate him as an egotistical moron, and some will eulogize him as a tragic figure.

I’ve personally always found Custer a fascinating but relatively unsympathetic historical figure, but reading T.J. Stiles’s excellent, Pulitzer-Prize winning Custer’s Trials forced me to  re-evaluate some of my assumptions about him.

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2016 Library Challenge: A Book Published This Year

This is it.  Believe it or not, you have made it to the last post of the 2016 Library Challenge.

If you’ve been participating in the challenge or following along with the blog, you know we have taken quite the journey this year, working our way through a range of interesting challenges, everything from romance to nonfiction to badly-reviewed books.

The only one left is a book published in the last year. So, without further ado, let’s take our last romp of the year with a round-up of some recent releases that have received positive reviews.

As always, if you’re interested, please visit our online library catalog for more information on any of the books.

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2016 Library Challenge: A Pulitzer Prize Winner

Let’s be real. For many, the Pulitzer Prize is not a reading turn-on.

And I understand why. If contemporary literary fiction isn’t your thing, ploughing through some of the past winners may seem like real work.

But I like literary fiction and think many prize-winning books make for a good read, even if you aren’t living in an ivory tower. If nothing else, they always give you plenty to think about!

Don’t forget that Pulitzers are also awarded for nonfiction, history, and biography.

Ready to take the plunge? Here’s a few prize winners that may just draw you in…

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