Omaha Public Library wants to help readers find new books — or at least books new to them. Every month in this space, OPL employees will recommend reading based on different writing genres, themes or styles.

This month’s titles come from OPL’s “Top Shelf,” a collection of the staff’s favorite titles from 2019. Find a full list of Top Shelf titles at topshelf.omahalibrary.org. Find these books and more at your local branch or omahalibrary.org.

Billy Coghill, clerk at W. Dale Clark Main Library

“The Scent of Buenos Aires,” by Hebe Uhart. The first collection of Argentinian author Hebe Uhart’s work to be published in English features stories of daily life and strange situations with wit and humor aplenty.

David Dick, library specialist at Milton R. Abrahams Branch

“The Nobody People,” by Bob Proehl. This book captures the intensifying pace and rising stakes of reading approximately 10 years of comics. The themes of diversity, inclusion and community (as well as a few references as Easter eggs) will appeal to X-Men fans.

Erin Duerr, readers & writers librarian at W. Dale Clark Main Library

“Zoo Nebraska,” by Carson Vaughan. Nebraska native Carson Vaughan paints an empathetic and tragic tale of a dashed American Dream. At the book’s center is Royal, Nebraska, a town with a population of 81, which had a zoo for almost 20 years, before its tragic end. Written with such detail and care, it feels like only someone with an understanding of Nebraska and its people could have told this story.

Melissa Flint, library specialist at Saddlebrook Branch

“The Language of Fire,” by Stephanie Hemphill. This immersive novel was written in verse and describes the amazing and heroic, yet humble, life of St. Joan of Arc.

Colby Jenkins, senior clerk at Charles B. Washington Branch

“A Fortune for Your Disaster,” by Hanif Abdurraqib. Abdurraqib continues to observe and describe life through lenses the reader hasn’t considered. His poetry avoids grandiose clichés, while showcasing his unique ability to reveal some truth by the end that was in the subtext of the work the whole time.

Casey Kralik, manager at W. Clarke Swanson Branch

“#IMomSoHard,” by Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley. Kristin and Jen are the moms that you want in your hangout. The Nebraska natives are honest, funny and not afraid to share what it means and looks like to be a mom. They are kindred spirits who will keep your side splitting to the end of the book. The content is even more humorous as presented by the authors themselves in the audiobook version.

Melanie Schultz, adult collection development librarian at Omaha Public Library

“Such a Fun Age,” by Kiley Reid. A powerful coming-of-age story exploring race, privilege and relationships. The story follows Emira, a young black babysitter, and Alix, the white upper-middle-class woman she works for. When details about Alix’s past emerge, Emira will never look at her the same again. This compulsive debut novel is witty, smart and relevant.

Ameen Wahba, clerk at Charles B. Washington Branch

“Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia,” by Nick Thorkelson. This comic book reviews the tenets of Marcuse’s philosophical positions and successfully articulates his ideas in the context of the historical moment/conflict that framed its birth (all in comic-form). Great for philosophy buffs or introductory folks.

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