Engaging Methuen Readers

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A Crash Course on Viruses!

Over the past year, we’ve probably all thought a lot more about viruses than we previously did. At least, we all know now what it’s like to live in a world where a new virus has emerged. But amidst all of our working from home, wearing masks, and avoiding human contact, we haven’t really learned anything from these experiences about what viruses are, where they come from, and how they’ve historically affected human life. Over the past few months, I decided I wanted to know a lot more and resolved to give myself a crash course on the history of viruses. This meant both learning where viruses come from –their history –and the relationship between humans and viruses –our shared history. My reading so far has touched on both aspects.

Cover image for The invisible enemy :

A good place to start to learn about the nature of viruses themselves is The Invisible Enemy by Dorothy H. Crawford. This book is slightly old (the most recent edition dates to 2003), but it’s to the point and contains diagrams explaining scientific concepts. If you’re not sure of the exact difference between a virus and a bacterium, this book has you covered in the first chapter. Beyond that, Crawford introduces the reader to specific viruses and how they work, and their discovery. Though it came out too early to cover SARS and Covid-19, this book offers all that the layperson needs to start understanding viruses.

Cover image for Spillover :

Is that not enough for you? How about a more recent, much longer book that touches much closer to Covid? If you read Crawford’s book and found yourself wanting to know more about the origins of such viruses as Hendra, Ebola, and HIV, look no further than Spillover by David Quammen. This book is exclusively about “zoonotic” viruses, human infections that originate in the animal kingdom, of which Covid-19 is one. As a science journalist, Quammen has traveled around the world, talking with virus experts who study and combat our most deadly viruses. This book not only covers the science of viruses as Crawford does, but also gives us a welcome look at the human side of viruses – both in introducing us to their unfortunate victims, as well as the heroic individuals who fight them. Quammen’s stories can be frightening (the SARS chapter is scarily prescient of Covid-19), but it’s also very comforting to know that every new virus has a crack team of worldwide scientists and doctors working tirelessly to stop them.

Cover image for Rabid :

If emerging scourges are too scary, though, you can always turn to reading about older, better understood viruses, such as rabies, which you have a statistically very low risk of contracting. Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy is an excellent overview of this infamous virus. Here we learn of the earliest mentions of rabies in human history, its cultural impact, how its vaccine came into existence, and how in recent years it has become curable in some cases. We learn fascinatingt hings here, like how rabies may have created the idea of monsters such as werewolves and vampires, and we hear in detail the story of how Louis Pasteur created the first rabies vaccine. More soberingly, we also learn of an outbreak of rabies in Bali in recent years,which serves as a reminder that we can’t afford to ignore viruses, regardless of where they are. Dog lovers may want to avoid certain parts of this book though, as the history of dogs and this particular virus is not a happy one. Nonetheless,this book reminds us that humanity has (nearly) triumphed over this once universally deadly virus.

Cover image for Get well soon :

After all of this, if you need hope and humor most of all, try Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, by Jennifer Wright. While she covers viruses such as polio and the 1918 flu, Wright does not stick exclusively to viruses, and also covers things like bubonic plague, leprosy, and typhoid, always with a particular focus on the people who fought these diseases. She also keeps it light by remaining humorous throughout, and is not above making digs at the people she’s talking about if they strike her as overly old-fashioned or eccentric. Sure, it’s lacking gravitas, but it’s very readable, and the other books I’ve mentioned are plenty serious. It’s certainly not offensive though, as Wright avoids being cavalier about still active plagues such as HIV. Overall, it’s a very digestible account of terrifying periods in human history, with enough heroic and insightful figures to make you, maybe, a little less scared about plagues of the present and future.

And that’s as far as I’ve come at this point. These are just the books I’ve found so far. There’s so much more out there, so many more viruses, so much more history. So see for yourself what you can find! Viruses may be scary, but their history shows heroic humans of every era learning how to understand and combat them. There’s hope yet, and fascinating reading in the meantime!

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LibraryReads May 2021: top ten books librarians love!


May 2021 LibraryReads List

Cover image for People We Meet on VacationPeople We Meet on Vacation

by Emily Henry

ISBN:  9781984806758

“An aching slow-burn romance focused on chaotic sprite Poppy and buttoned up Alex and their twelve years of summer vacations. Set in present day Palm Springs and interspersed with flashbacks from the previous vacations, this story is full of yearning, friendship, and discussions of what it means to find a home. For fans of This Time Next Year, One Day in December, and Waiting for Tom Hanks.”

Elizabeth Gabriel, Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI
NoveList read-alike: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Cover image for Arsenic and AdoboArsenic and Adobo

by Mia P. Manansala

ISBN:  9780593201671

“This fast-paced, cozy mystery with a diverse and colorful cast will make you laugh, cringe, and salivate. Lila has returned home to help with the family’s failing Filipino restaurant, which is repeatedly panned by her food blogger ex. When he comes to lunch and ends up face down in his dessert, Lila becomes the prime murder suspect. For readers who enjoyed Dial A for Aunties and Mimi Lee Gets a Clue.”

Laura Eckert, Clermont County Public Library, Milford, OH
NoveList read-alike: A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette

Cover image for The Bookshop of Second ChancesBookshop of Second Chances:  A Novel

by Jackie Fraser

Ballantine Books
ISBN:  9780593355657

“Nothing like turning a page in an upended life to find a surprising plot twist leading to a satisfying ending. That’s what readers will find in this charming novel. The power of books to soothe will attract bibliophiles, but stay for the lively banter of the romantic leads, the quirky local residents, and the brisk Scottish countryside. Perfect for fans of Evvie Drake Starts Over and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.”

Kaite Stover, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO
NoveList read-alike: How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Cover image for The GuncleGunkle

by Steven Rowley

G.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN:  9780525542285

“Gay Uncle Patrick,” a reclusive TV star, takes in his niece and nephew for the summer after the death of their mother, his dear friend. As the three navigate their grief together, Patrick finds he needs the kids as much as they need him. By turns funny and poignant, this heartwarming story is great for fans of actor (and Instagram fave) Leslie Jordan and for readers who like Fredrik Backman.”

Heather Bistyga, Anderson County Library, Anderson, SC
NoveList read-alike: The Family Man by Elinor Lipman

Cover image for The Invisible Husband of Frick IslandThe Invisible Husband of Frick Island: A Novel

by Colleen Oakley

ISBN:  9781984806482

“Anders, a journalist, is sent to Frick Island to cover a Cake Walk, where he meets Piper, a widow who behaves as if her husband had never died. The strangest thing is, the entire island goes along with this delusion, and Anders, who is smitten with Piper, is determined to find out why.  For fans of The Story of Arthur Truluv and The Garden of Small Beginnings.

Aubrey Parker, Montgomey County Memorial Library, Conroe, TX
NoveList read-alike: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Cover image for Mary JaneMary Jane: A Novel

by Jessica Anya Blau

Custom House
ISBN: 9780063052291

“It’s 1975 and Mary Jane takes a job babysitting while all her friends are away at summer camp. The job comes with exposure to a celebrity and her addicted rock star husband and Mary Jane experiences a world very different than her own. For readers who enjoyed Be Frank with Me, Nothing to See Here, and This Tender Land.”

Jan Fisher, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
NoveList read-alike:  About a Boy by Nick Hornby

Cover image for The newcomerThe Newcomer:  A Novel

by Mary Kay Andrews

St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250256966

“Letty is on the run with her four-year-old niece, afraid she will be accused of her sister’s murder. She ends up at a beach front motel in Florida full of interesting
and entertaining characters. Murder, fugitives, romance, and a great cast of
characters. A perfect beach read. For readers who enjoy books by Elin Hildenbrand
and Janet Evanovich.”

Sandy Ruhmann, Allen Park Public Library, Allen Park, MI
NoveList read-alike: Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

Cover image for Talk Bookish to Me (Original)Talk Bookish to Me: A Novel

by Kate Bromley

Graydon House
ISBN: 9781525806438

“A must-read romance novel, this enemies to lovers contemporary romance has enough tension and sizzle to satisfy any romance reader.  Bonus, the lead character is a romance writer and readers get a romance novel within a romance novel. For readers
who loved Much Ado About You and The Invitation.”

Hannah Spratt, New York Public Library, New York, NY
NoveList read-alike: The Things We Leave Unfinished by Rebecca Yarros

Cover image for While Justice SleepsWhile Justice Sleeps: A Novel

by Stacey Abrams

ISBN: 9780385546577

“Avery’s boss is a Supreme Court Justice and he is currently in a coma after naming Avery (instead of his wife) as his guardian. This situation is further complicated
by the fact that the judge is a swing vote in a very important decision before the court. How well Avery knows her boss will determine the fate of both of them. For readers of John Grisham and Robert Dugoni.”

Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Public Library, Austin, TX
NoveList read-alike: Paper Gods by Goldie Taylor

Cover image for The Woman With the Blue StarThe Woman with the Blue Star:  A You Novel

by Pam Jenoff

Park Row
ISBN: 9780778389385

“Based on the true stories of Jewish families who utilized the sewers to escape
persecution during WWII. Sadie struggles to come to terms with loss. Ella struggles to figure out where she fits in amidst the chaos. Their friendship brings them hope
and purpose. For readers who enjoyed The Rose Code, Our Darkest Night.”

Kate Eminhizer, Pamunkey Regional Library, Hanover, VA
NoveList read-alike: Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

 Courtesy of

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Armchair Travel: Mysteries set in Africa

After a year of not traveling far outside of my neighborhood , I am getting restless. Vaccinated or not, I am ready for some serious revenge travel. So, toodles, I am off to Africa! No jet lag to contend with here for I am seamlessly transported to the busy streets of Lagos, Nigeria and now I am settling in for some tasty roast squash in Botswana. The mysteries listed below vary in grittiness and pace, but they all have one thing in common: they are all set in Africa and exhibit a real sense of place and atmosphere. Bon Voyage!

Cover image for Lightseekers

Lightseekers by Femi Kayodi (2021) NIGERIA

When Dr. Philip Taiwo is called on by a powerful Nigerian politician to investigate the public torture and murder of three university students in Port Harcourt, he has no idea that he’s about to be enveloped by a perilous case that is far from cold. Philip is not a detective. He’s an investigative psychologist, an academic more interested in figuring out the why of a crime than actually solving it. But when he steps off the plane and into the dizzying frenzy of the provincial airport, he soon realizes that the mob-driven murder of the Okriki Three isn’t as straight forward as he thought. With the help of his loyal and streetwise personal driver, Chika, Philip must work against those actively conspiring against him to parse together the truth of what happened to these students.

Lagos Noir edited by Chris Abani (2018) NIGERIA

Presents a collection of noir-style short stories written by Nigerian authors and set in distinct neighborhoods within Lagos.

Cover image for Easy motion tourist

Easy Motion Tourist by Lele Adenle (2016) NIGERIA

A compelling crime novel set in Lagos, featuring a feisty female protagonist willing to take on the Nigerian criminal underworld.

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey (2009) GHANA

Investigating the murder of an AIDS worker in an African community from which his mother went missing years earlier, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson collects details about the killing and realizes that he is close to solving the truth about his mother’s disappearance. (1st in the Detective Darko Dawson series). Also, a good listen in audiobook format.

Cover image for The missing American

The Missing American by Kwei Quartey (2020) GHANA

Accra private investigator Emma Djan’s first missing persons case will lead her to the darkest depths of the email scams and fetish priests in Ghana, the world’s Internet capital. (1st in Emma Djan series).

A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley (2008) BOTSWANA

In the aftermath of the murder of an anonymous victim, assistant superintendent David Bengu begins his career in Botswana, where his convivial passions and determined methods earn him a local nickname that likens him to a hippopotamus. (1st in Detective Kubu series) Another great listen in audiobook format.

Cover image for A beautiful place to die

A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (2009) SOUTH AFRICA

A tale based on the author’s childhood in 1950s apartheid southern Africa finds English detective Emmanuel Cooper’s investigation into an Afrikaans police officer’s murder hampered by the Afrikaner Secret Police’s campaign to capture black communist radicals. (1st in Detective Emmanuel Cooper series)

Blood Safari by Deon Meyers (2007) SOUTH AFRICA

Emma Le Roux hires a personal security expert when her believed-dead brother is named as a suspect in the murders of five people, a situation that exposes her to political tensions, corruption, and life-threatening violence.

Hour of the Red God by Richard Crompton (2013) KENYA

Detective Mollel, a former Maasai warrior in Nairobi, investigates the brutal murder of a prostitute and suspects the killing is part of a far more extensive plot associated with the turbulent elections of 2007. (1st in Detective Mollel series)

“Africa has her mysteries, and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them”

Miriam Makeba

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Program: Spring Cleaning!

Spring Cleaning: The Feng Shui Approach

Wednesday, May 12th 2021 at 6pm

Do you wish that you could do the impossible, wiggle your nose and magically rid your home of clutter?
That’s impossible, but, you can learn the meaning of clutter and why it is causing you to feel stuck and unmotivated. You may even find you want to clean!

Join us via Zoom as we talk with Julie Pelletier Rutkowski & learn how to clean the Feng Shui way!

Please either CLICK HERE TO REGISTER or call 978-686-4080 x12.


Speaker: Julie Rutkowski, MS, RN, is the owner and principal consultant for Feng Shui Services of New England. She is a certified Feng Shui practitioner from the Grandmaster Lin Yun Feng Shui Certification Program®. She has been consulting and educating about the need for a balanced home and work environment since 2010. Julie earned Red Ribbon status through the International Feng Shui Guild and an active member of the American Holistic Nurses Association. She teaches, speaks and writes on the benefits of Feng Shui throughout New England.


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LibraryReads: Hall of Fame April 2021

LibraryReads Hall of Fame:  April 2021

The LibraryReads Hall of Fame designation honors authors who have had multiple titles appear on the monthly LibraryReads list since 2013. When their third title places on the list via library staff votes, the author moves into the Hall of Fame.


Cover image for The drowning kindThe Drowning Kind

by Jennifer McMahon

First Scout Press
ISBN: 9781982153922

“The waters of Bradenburg Springs are said to have miraculous curative properties, but rumor has it that the healing always comes with a price. When Jax’s sister drowns in a
pool filled with the spring’s water, she must discover the truth behind the legends. This
is a great, creepy supernatural thriller.”

Mara Bandy Fass, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, IL

Read-alike: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Read-alike: The Good House by Tananarive Due

Cover image for The good sisterThe Good Sister: A Novel

by Sally Hepworth

St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250120953

“Rose and Fern have a strong sisterly bond, but their dark secrets may bind them
more strongly than they think. How far would you go to protect your sister? Dark and compelling, this psychological suspense story has a taut pace and plenty of twists to keep readers guessing.”

Jen Ohzourk, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO

Read-alike: The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle
Read-alike: The End of Her by Shari Lapena

Cover image for Mother may I :Mother May I: A Novel

by Joshilyn Jackson

William Morrow 
ISBN: 9780062855343

“Bree is a suburban mom with a lot on her plate. Her life changes when her baby is kidnapped and she has to complete a series of tasks to get her child back. This is the perfect kind of psychological thriller, a scorching page-turner featuring a rocking plot
and intense character development.”

Cari Dubiel, Twinsburg Public Library, Twinsburg, OH

Read-alike: And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall
Read-alike: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Cover image for When the stars go dark :Where the Stars Go Dark

by Paula McLain

ISBN: 9780593237892

“In 1993, troubled detective Anna returns to her hometown, where a girl has gone missing. As Anna helps search for the girl, both their pasts are revealed. A beautifully written, haunting thriller offering a fascinating look at how missing cases were handled pre-Internet.”

Alissa Williams, Morton Public Library, Morton, IL

Read-alike: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Read-alike: The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

Read-alikes provided by NoveList and the LibraryReads community.

Courtesy of LibraryReads Hall of Fame Authors


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Eat Out and Support the Friends of the Library!

Thanks to all of you who helped out the Library by enjoying dinner at the Chateau Restaurant in Andover last month. The Friends raised much-needed funds to support the Library’s Summer Reading programs this year. 

Our next Support our Local Restaurants event will be at The Irish Cottage on April 21st from 4 – 10 pm.

To support this fundraiser all you need to do is get take-out or dine-in at the Irish Cottage that evening, and present a flyer when you pay your check so that your server knows you are there to support the Friends of the Nevins Library! 

You can pick up a flyer at the Main or Reference Desk of the Library, or call and ask for one using the Library’s Curbside Pickup service (call 978-722-2666.)

It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN situation: a tasty prepared meal for you, keeping a local restaurant in business, and raising funds for library programming!

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Celebrating with “Poetree” in National Poetry Month

Poem & Drawing by Shel Silverstein – Falling Up

It’s the twenty-fifth anniversary of National Poetry Month!

At the Nevins Library we are putting up a “Poetree” this year to help us celebrate.

The tree will have bare branches and be set up in the library entrance. We hope that you all will fill the branches with poems!

How can you do that?

You may share with us a favorite poem of yours, or some verses of a longer poem you love. Or perhaps you write poetry and wish to share an original work!

Submissions for our “Poetree” can be either by emailing Krista McLeod or may be dropped off at the Main Desk of the Library. We will then prepare the poems and hang them up. Please mark your email or physical entry with “Poetry Month.” Let’s celebrate the art of language and verse by filling our tree with words.

There is no better poetry

Than words hanging in a – Oak

Or possibly a Birch

Or Maple, ooh, or a Dogwood

~ Danielle

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LibraryReads April 2021: top ten books librarians love!


April 2021 LibraryReads List

Cover image for The Intimacy ExperimentThe Intimacy Experiment

by Rosie Danan

ISBN: 9780593101629

“Having built the Shameless platform to teach people how to find their own pleasure, Naomi wants to take that sex positivity to a lecture circuit, but no one will hire her. Enter Ethan, a young, handsome rabbi with a struggling synagogue. A seminar series on modern intimacy seems like a good way to build a sense of community and attract a younger congregation. What happens is their own lesson in intimacy,as two people passionate about their work and trying to make the world a better place sizzle with chemistry. Give to fans of The Roommate, The Kiss Quotient, and Meet Cute.

Hebah Amin-Headley, Johnson County Public Library, Overland Park, KS
NoveList read-alike: How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams

Cover image for Broken (in the best possible way)Broken (in the best possible way)

by Jenny Lawson

Henry Holt & Co
ISBN: 9781250077035

Lawson is a hot mess of depression and anxiety. She is also funny as hell. In this book she lays herself open. She celebrates all those awkward and difficult parts of herself and invites you to celebrate your own. She will make you laugh until you cry, and then she wraps up the episode with some profound truth that catches you unaware. For readers who like David Sedaris and Ali Wong.”

Beth Morrill, Canton Public Library, Canton, CT
NoveList read-alike: That’s Mental: Painfully Funny Things That Drive Me Crazy About Being Mentally Ill by Amanda Rosenberg

Cover image for Dial a for AuntiesDial A for Aunties

by Jesse Q. Sutanto

ISBN:  9780593336731

“Meddy’s blind date doesn’t end as planned, and she now has a corpse to dispose of. Her mother’s solution: call in the three aunties. What follows is a roller coaster ride of a weekend with the Chan family trying to get rid of the body while working at a high profile wedding. A fast-paced and darkly humorous debut with sweet romantic moments throughout. For fans of My Sister, the Serial Killer and Get a Life, Chloe Brown.”

Laura Eckert, Clermont County Public Library, Milford, OH
NoveList read-alike: Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

Cover image for Life's too shortLife’s Too Short

by Abby Jimenez

ISBN: 9781538715666

“Jimenez hits it out of the park again. She combines real-world issues with the get-the-girl, lose-the-girl dynamics of a romance. In this case, Adrian has a good chance of losing Vanessa to ALS. They both have multiple family issues including a hoarding father, an abandoning parent, a sister with addiction issues, and a baby niece that needs attention. Give to fans of Mia Sosa and Josie Silver.”

Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, MA
NoveList read-alike: Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Cover image for MaliceMalice: A Novel

by Heather Walter

Del Rey
ISBN: 9781984818652

Alyce is the sole Dark Grace in Briar, a kingdom whose people love their Graces (the magical ladies who give them special elixirs). But Briar has a problem with their princesses: they die at 21 unless they kiss their one true love. Princess Aurora doesn’t
seem to be interested in any of the princes. This LGBTQ re-telling of Sleeping Beauty is creative and fun, with a perfect ending. For fans of Spinning Silver and Gods of Jade and Shadow.

Carrie Minthorne, Cedar Mill Library, Portland, OR
NoveList read-alike: Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan

Cover image for The Music of BeesThe Music of Bees: A Novel

by Eileen Garvin

ISBN: 9780593183922

“Beekeeper Alice is an older widow who is working to save her small town from big corporate greed. She forms an alliance with two young adults who both find unexpected joy in nature. For those who enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”

Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI
NoveList read-alike: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey

Cover image for The Night Always ComesThe Night Always Comes:  A Novel

by Willy Vlauton

ISBN: 9780063035089

“Lynette is trying to buy the family home from her landlord as housing prices rise around her. At the last moment, her mother says she will not cosign for the loan and  Lynette does not qualify on her own. In a last-ditch effort, Lynette sets off on an
odyssey of collecting old debts and a miniature crime spree. For readers who like
Raymond Chandler, John Banville, and Elmore Leonard.”

Mary Robinson, Vernon Area Public Library, Lincolnshire, IL
NoveList read-alike: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Cover image for Second First ImpressionsSecond First Impressions: A Novel

by Sally Thorne

William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780062912855

“Ruthie Midona, twentysomething, works in a retirement community and feels like she fits in more with the residents than with her peers. Enter an attractive tattooed man assistant hired by the eccentric 90-year-old Parloni Sisters. This romance is filled with heart and laughter. For readers of Helen Hoang and Jasmine Guillory.”

Melissa Stumpe, Johnson County Public Library, Franklin, IN
NoveList read-alike:  Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Cover image for To Love and to Loathe, Volume 2To Love and To Loathe: A Novel

by Martha Waters

Atria Books
ISBN: 9781982160876

“This enemies-to-lovers Regency romance takes Diana, Lady Templeton, and Jeremy,
Marquess of Willingham, from engaging in a no-strings attached affair to their happily
ever after. For readers who love Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Jennifer Crusie (contemporary, but witty dialogue and hilarious hijinks.)”

Kathleen Fais, New York Public Library, New York, NY
NoveList read-alike:  One Good Earl Deserves A Lover by Sarah MacLean

Cover image for You love me :You Love Me:  A You Novel

by Caroline Kepnes

Random House
ISBN: 9780593133781

“In this, the third installment in the “You” series, Joe Goldberg moves to the cozy island of Bainbridge in the outskirts of Seattle and sets his sights on the town librarian, who becomes his new obsession. For fans of Behind Her Eyes and The Silent Patient.”

Joann Im, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
NoveList read-alike:  Creep by Jennifer Hillier

 Courtesy of