When times are hard, books can provide peace, comfort, inspiration and escape. 2020 seems like the perfect time to lose yourself in literature, dig into a fascinating nonfiction or soak up the summer sun with a fabulous beach read.

I asked a few staffers at Whitman County Library what they are reading to deal with these stressful times. As you’ll see, their selections are very personal and reflect the different ways we all cope. Perhaps their suggestions will resonate for you as well.

Rosalia Branch Manager Marcy Campbell shared with me, “I am rereading several old favorites. I find comfort in these familiar books because I know what is going to happen. No uncertainty here! Each of these authors has a way with words which make their worlds come alive to me. I am rereading the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series by L.M. Montgomery, the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.”

Shelly Ausmus, branch manager for Tekoa and Oakesdale, is reading “Beneath the Tamarind Tree” by Isha Sesay, a book recommended to her by a library patron. Shelly explained, “The story recounts the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists. It has broadened my perspective by better understanding the hardships of others and of situations much more challenging than my own.”

Kathy Buchholtz selects adult fiction for the library system. She suggested the audiobook “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” by Beth Hoffman, which she describes as a sweet, comforting read.

“This book takes you from tears to laughter and back again. I absolutely loved it,” she said.

Kathy listened to the downloadable audio book available on the library’s website and highly recommends that format.

“I was under the spell of the narrator Jenna Lamia’s Southern accent right from the start,” she said. “The draw of the South, a different time, a different place and a wonderfully unique family all came together to create the perfect escape.”

Rita Ackerman, Farmington branch manager, invites you to grab an iced drink and plop your toes in the sand to savor the perfect summertime read, “The Identicals” by Elin Hilderbrand. This novel tells of twin sisters who couldn’t look more alike, or be more different. Travel with them as they island-hop through New England sharing secrets, lies and gossip.

Amy Ferguson works in Colfax and is the Albion branch manager. She encourages you to read “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë. She says, “I freaking love this book and have read it multiple times over the years. It is such a great example of early feminist literature, a love story and creepy Gothic novel all in one! What more do you need?!” Amy reminds you that there is never a wait time on classic eBooks available from the “Downloadable Books” link on the library’s website.

I personally recommend the memoir “Educated” by Tara Westover. It is a completely captivating, unforgettable true story of a survivalist family in rural Idaho and a daughter’s quest for knowledge and the freedom that comes with it. You will find yourself indignant and inspired at the same time.

We hope our staff suggestions connect with you and I’d love to hear what you think after reading them.

If you are interested in these or other library materials, visit the library catalog www.whitco.lib.us or contact me, Sarah Phelan-Blamires at (509) 397-4366 or info@whitco.lib.wa.us. Because Washington’s libraries are still closed, materials can be picked up curbside from any branch, by download from the library’s website or direct mailing to your home.

Sarah Phelan-Blamires is the public services assistant at the Whitman County Library.

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