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By Alyssa S.

2020 Staff Favorites

Here at EVPL, we take pride in providing you with the latest and greatest entertainment in the form of books and audiovisual materials. However, we also love that we get to personally take advantage of all of the materials that EVPL has to offer, and we love to share our favorites with our library users.  

Here is a list of our favorite books, movies, TV shows, and more that we enjoyed this past year. Most of these titles also include a personalized summary and review by the person who recommended them. Browse through the list to see our favorites from 2020 and why we liked them so much. Place holds to pick up the titles using EVPL To Go, or check out electronic copies immediately using Overdrive and Hoopla. We hope you enjoy these titles as much as we did! 

Books

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

Recommended by Katie S. 

Synopsis from GoodReads: “For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation–following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married–Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes.”

 

 

Educated by Tara Westover

Recommended by Jamye W. 

This memoir shows the fascinating journey of one woman to leave behind a family history of abuse, control, and fundamental extremism to find personal freedom and a life of her own.”

 

 

 

 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Recommended by Katie S. 

Synopsis: Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion.

 

 

 

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Recommended by Katie S. 

Synopsis from GoodReads: When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

 

 

Master Class by Christina Dalcher 

Recommended by Heather M. 

The potential of people are given a standardized score – a Q (quotient) score, which then determines what kind of education, and thus life, that they will live. A look at how a tiered educational system can warp and destroy lives when we stop viewing people as individuals and only as numbers on a page.”

 

 

 

Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd

Recommended by Jamye W. 

A Jane Austen spin-off. A murder mystery surrounding one of Jane Austen’s least favorite characters, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park. The book is written in a style similar to that of Austen.”

 

 

 

 

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

Recommended by Christina B. 

Christina says, “I picked up this little book to bask in some ancient wisdom. It was more like getting a well-needed slap in the face by a long-dead wise man. A brutally honest self-help book.”

 

 

 

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Recommended by Marilyn W. 

Not just another post-apocalyptic novel about a highly contagious and deadly virus, this novel is mostly optimistic about humanity and our culture, even as it illustrates the fragility of our culture’s infrastructure.”

 

 

 

 

The Bohemians: The Lovers Who Led Germany’s Resistance Against the Nazis by Norman Ohler

Recommended by Jamye W. 

Written in a very readable style, Ohler writes about the couple Harro Schulze-Boysen and Libertas Haas-Heye and the overlapping circles of fellow resistors with whom they worked. Both were in positions of influence during the Nazi regime and used these positions to support resistance against Hitler and his government. Exciting, tense, heartbreaking, and inspiring.”

 

 

The Complete Peanuts Collection

Recommended by Jake K. 

Comprised of 8 volumes, find all of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comics on Hoopla

 

 

 

 

The Factory Witches of Lowell by C.S. Malerich

Recommended by Kirt E. 

Historical/supernatural novella about young women factory workers using magic to form a workers’ union in 19th century Lowell, Massachusetts. The union’s magic requires the girls to be a united front no matter how afraid they are or how cruel the factory owners may be. The novella mixes real history and fantasy to show how people can work together to stand against oppressive forces.”

 

 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Recommended by Katie S. 

Synopsis from GoodReads: Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Recommended by Alyssa S. 

Great story set in two decades – the 1910’s and 90’s – about a suspected rare book thief with connections to two generations of the same family and the New York Public Library.”

 

 

 

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Recommended by Jamye W. 

Book of poetry that delves beautifully into topics of hurt and healing. The first of several books with similar themes.”

 

 

 

 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Recommended by Katherine E. 

Historic Fantasy – January lives in a big mansion with her guardian when she finds a special book that takes her on a journey of self-discovery through multiple “doors” that transport her to other worlds.”

 

 

 

 

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Recommended by Christina B. 

After binging the BBC series, The Musketeers, I wanted to read the source material for comparison. As it so happens, the book–while hefty–is just as fun and hilarious, with plenty of clever manipulations and daring adventures!”

 

 

 

This is the Day and Shaken by Tim Tebow

Recommended by Elaine L. 

Both are full of his real-life inspirational experiences, and they are easy reads.”

 

 

 

 

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord 

Recommended by Heather M. 

This was an adorable mash-up of social media, food puns, and a Romeo & Juliet love affair. One of just a few books to earn 5 stars from me in 2020.”

 

 

 

 

Vision Vol. 1 and 2 by Tom King

Recommended by Aaron D. 

A two-volume comic run that follows the sentient android Vision as he creates his own family in the mold of the traditional nuclear family and moves into suburbs. The inherently goofy premise packs plenty of drama as the main family attempts to logically navigate the act of ‘being human’ before inevitable tragedies strike.”

 

 

 

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Recommended by Katie S. 

Synopsis from GoodReads: Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen.

 

 

Audio-Visual and Streaming Materials

A Hidden Life (2019)

Recommended by Christina B.  

The latest from one of my favorite directors and based on the true story of an Austrian farmer who, motivated by his deep faith, refuses a summons to the German army in WWII and faces dire consequences. Full of characteristic nature shots, questions about morality, and poetic voice-overs. Transcendent and absorbing.”

 

 

 

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn 

Recommended by Jake K. 

Jake recommends this book as an audiobook (available on Hoopla)!

 

 

 

 

 

Deadwater Fell 

Recommended by Jake K. 

From AcornTV, but available to us free on Hoopla in four episodes. It’s a fantastic, gripping, thriller. Lies, affairs, murder, and heavy Scottish accents!”

 

 

 

 

Elton John’s Greatest Hits (1970-2002)

Recommended by Jake K. 

This album includes most of Elton John’s most successful and popular music, like: Your Song, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Bennie and the Jets, Philadelphia Freedom, and so much more!  Stream it now on Hoopla

 

 

 

Fleabag: Season 2 

Recommended by Alyssa S. 

“I thought the first season of Fleabag was fantastic, but Season 2 just blows it out of the water. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who stars in and wrote the series) is a modern television genius. She created six episodes of absolutely perfect television. The characters are hilarious and real. Fleabag tackles very ordinary topics – love, loss, and even religion – in a very extraordinary way.”

 

 

Gremlins (1984)

Recommended by Katie S. 

I enjoyed revisiting this holiday horror movie in December. Some parts are cringe-y for non-horror-related reasons… they just did not age well at all… but overall, this is a great one to watch when you’re trying to get into the holiday, but not ready for the warm and fuzzy Christmas movies.”

 

 

 

Mr. Right (2015)

Recommended by Christina B. 

A rom-com about a girl who finds her perfect guy–who happens to be a professional hitman on the run from a crime cartel. Violence and romance ensue. Quirky and absurd.”

 

 

 

 

Murdoch Murder Mysteries

Recommended by Jamye W. 

Whodunnit tv series set in the Victorian era with elements of steampunk, Detective Murdoch uses new scientific methods to catch the true culprits behind deadly crimes.”

 

 

 

 

The Great Courses: Music of the 20th Century

Recommended by Jake K. 

Synopsis from Kanopy: The 20th century was a breeding ground of musical innovation and transformation unlike any other era in history. Within this course, you’ll discover the genius of composers such as Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, Bartok, Ligeti, Ades, and many others. Experience the superlative musical art that so vividly and unforgettably speaks to the life of our times.

 

 

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*Cover art from Goodreads and IMDb  

Alyssa S.

Alyssa S.


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