Books to recommend to your friends

By John Maruskin

Community colunnist

Last week I told you more than 300,000 books are published each year in the United States alone.  This week, I’ll narrow the focus to four new books at the Clark County Public Library. Not to suggest they are the best the library received recently.

The best book the library received recently is the book that carried you away in its narrative.  

I hope this small sampling draws you into perusing the library’s new books section to discover a title you’ll want to share with your friends

Kaia Alderson’s debut historical fiction novel “Sisters in Arms” (call # F Alde, Historical Fiction) tells the true story of the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps in WWII.

Grace Steele and Eliza Jones are two of the first female army officers. They are also the first Black women allowed to serve. “Sisters in Arms” explores what life was like for the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II.

“The Best of R.A. Lafferty,” ed Jonathan Strahan (call # F Laff, Science Fiction).  Raphael Aloysius Lafferty (1914-2002), winner of the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, wrote acute, indescribably loopy stories comparable to those of Avram Davidson, Flannery O’Connor, Flann O’Brien, and Gene Wolfe.

This book presents 22 of Lafferty’s best stories with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, and afterwords by, Samuel R. Delany, John Scalzi, Connie Willis, Jeff VanderMeer, Kelly Robson, Harlan Ellison, Patton Oswalt., and many others.  

Reference Librarian, Brad Allard is building the library’s collection of Asian literature.  One beautiful new book he selected is “The Cake Tree in Ruins,” by Akiyuki Nosaka (call # F Nosa).

These intensely moving stories depict animals and people caught in the absurd violence of war. 

They are based on Nosaka’s own experiences as a child in Japan during the second World War.

A lonely whale searches the oceans for a mate and sacrifices himself for love; a mother tries to save her son with her tears; a magnificent tree, its branches made from the sweetest cake imaginable, grows amid the ruins of a burnt-out town.

Profound, heartbreaking and aglow with beauty, these stories describe the chaos and terror of conflict, and reveal how love can illuminate the darkest moment.

Got to keep your strength up, so the last book I’ll mention is by six-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee, Ouita Michel.  It’s called “Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places” (call # 641,5975 Mich, Kentucky Authors).  

The “Favorite Places” of the title are Ouita Michel’s superb Bluegrass restaurants including Windy Corner, Wallace Station and the Midway Bakery.  There’s a foreword by Silas House and local food lore throughout.  

The recipes in this book are so good, when you taste them you’ll want to-in the words of legendary Southern cook, Ernest Matthew Mickler-“lay down on the floor and scream!” 

Got a favorite book?  Let me know about it and I’ll feature it and you in this column.  Have a good week.  You know the drill: shot, mask (in the library, please), distance, wash ‘em.