Around the Island

Read the winter away: Staff picks from the Shelter Island Library

Staying indoors this winter? Pick up some of the Shelter Island Library’s staff picks to pass the time.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss

With this winter weather, rain and short daylight hours, it’s easy to fall into hibernation mode and stay inside once the sun is gone at 5 p.m. While technology makes movies, TV shows and video games easily accessible, it’s also easy to binge-watch the winter away. But let’s not forget the satisfaction of turning the pages of an actual paper book.

The Reporter consulted the team at the Shelter Island Library for their personal reading recommendations for kids and adults alike. Here are the personal picks from Anthony Zutter, children’s librarian, Terry Lucas, library director and Jocelyn Ozolins, head of reference. So get down to the library for a page-turner to read away the winter blues.

For the kids

Compiled by Anthony Zutter, children’s librarian.

Picture books:

“A Big Mooncake for Little Star” by Grace Lin

In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon. 

“Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter” by Kenard Pak

Join a brother and sister as they explore nature and take a stroll through their twinkling town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with everything from the setting sun to curious deer, they say goodbye to autumn and welcome the glorious first snow of winter. 

“Charlie & Mouse” by Laurel Snyder

This Seuss-Giesel Award winner is about Charlie and Mouse, two young brothers, enjoying a day out together, attending an imaginary party and collecting rocks.

Read Along Books:

Join some of your favorite characters on a literary adventure in an easy-to-read format. Perfect for a quick bedtime story on those chilly winter evenings. 

5-Minute Stories:

“Daniel Tiger”

“Thomas the Tank Engine”

“Disney Princesses”

“DC Superheroes”

“Star Wars”

“Winnie the Pooh”

School-age Books:

“Louisiana’s Way Home” by Kate DiCamillo

Called “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” by The New York Times Book Review, the heartbreakingly irresistible Louisiana Elefante was introduced to readers in Raymie Nightingale — and now, with humor and tenderness, Kate DiCamillo returns to tell her story. 

“Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild” (Dog Man Series) by Dav Pilkey

Is Dog Man bad to the bone? The heroic hound is sent to the pound for a crime he didn’t commit! While his pals work to prove his innocence, Dog Man struggles to find his place among dogs and people. Being a part of both worlds, will he ever fully fit in with one? 

“Atlas Obscura: Explorers Guide for The Worlds Most Adventurous Kid” by Dylan Thuras

Thrillingly imaginative expedition to 100 weird-but-true places on earth. And just as compelling is the way the book is structured — hopscotching from country to country not by location but by type of attraction. 


“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi

In a distant land where magic is a norm and used by everyone in society, things take a turn for the worse when everyone’s magic is suddenly gone. With Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel, readers embark on a fantasy escapade that includes princesses, magic, and plenty of danger.

“City of Ghosts” by Victoria Schwab

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

Winter Reading for adults

Compiled by Terry Lucas, Director and Jocelyn Ozolins, Head of Reference

“The Traveling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa (Translated by Philip Gabriel)

Hiro Arikawa’s international bestselling novel gives voice to Nana, the cat, and his owner/rescuer Satoru as they take to the road in Satoru’s silver van to visit old friends across Japan. On their journey, this duo experiences the ever-changing scenery and seasons of Japan as their powerful bond develops. The Traveling Cat Chronicles celebrates self-sacrifice and kindness with humor, wisdom and compassion.

“Educated” by Tara Westover

Tara Westover’s extraordinary memoir topped 2018’s ‘best of’ lists. Raised by fundamentalist survivalists in the Idaho mountains,Tara never attended school or saw a doctor. She spent summers stewing herbs with her herbalist/midwife mother and winters working in her father’s (dangerous) scrapyard. There was no one to see that she got an education nor anyone to intervene when a violent older brother attacked her. Inspired by another of her brothers to go to college, Westover learned about world events like the Holocaust for the first time. Her determination and curiosity transformed her and earned her degrees from Harvard and Cambridge. This coming-of-age story demonstrates not only the power of education but also the poignancy of separating from all that is familiar.

“Virgil Wander” by Leif Enger

This is award winner and best-selling author (Peace Like A River) Leif Enger’s first book in ten years. Small town movie owner Virgil Wander drives his Pontiac off a bridge and into Lake Superior. Though he survives, he’s lost his language and memory and must trust his friends and neighbors in his fading rust belt town to help him piece together his own history and that of his community. Peopled with Midwestern eccentrics, “Virgil Wander” celebrates small town life and small but important pleasures. 

“The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang

This debut romance tells the sexy and sweet story of thirty-year-old Stella Lane who is brilliant with numbers but can’t figure out modern dating and sex. Stella, who is on the autism spectrum, hires biracial male escort Michael Larsen to help her sort it all out. As their pseudo romance becomes a real one, the two have to overcome their insecurities, abandonment issues and class differences. Hoang’s smart and witty romance (which has been optioned for the movies) has been described by many reviewers as a tempting binge-read that touches on mental health, sex work and other important social issues.

“The Collector’s Apprentice” by B.A. Shapiro

Nineteen-year-old Paulien Mertens is alone, disowned and broke in the summer of 1922 in Paris. Framed by her fiancée for a million dollar con game, even her family believes her guilty. She forges a new identity as Vivienne Gregsby, determined to exonerate herself, recover her father’s art collection and exact revenge on her fiancée. As she travels between Paris and Philadelphia, Vivienne’s life gets more complicated and she’s arrested for murder. This twisty tale, featuring the Parisian world of post-Impressionists and expatriates including Matisse and Gertrude Stein, has been called “dazzling and seductive.”

“Five Carat Soul” by James McBride

Journalist and writer McBride became famous in 1995 with his memoir “The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.” He’s since written three well-received historical novels. This debut short story collection is varied both in tone and in topic, ranging from the story of a power-hungry vintage toy salesman to a sweet story about a makeshift orphanage for African-American boys. Four of the stories focus on a group of middle school boys who play in the Five-Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The common denominator in these stories is the compassion and beautifully rendered prose that McBride brings to them.

“Code Girls: The Untold Story of The American Code Breakers of World War II” by Liza Mundy.

Mundy’s deeply researched book describes the experience of the several thousand American women who spent the war years in Washington D.C. decoding messages sent by the Japanese and German military and diplomatic corps. At the time even well-educated women were not encouraged to have careers, much less excel in complex problem-solving. The women spent tedious, long days learning to make sense of incomprehensible lists of numbers and letters. Their work allowed the American military to sink enemy supply ships, shoot down planes and glean vital information on battle plans. Mundy describes the thrilling “eureka moments” when codes were cracked. She tracked down more than 20 former code breakers such as Ann Caracristi who was such a prodigy that she became the head of an Army research unit at age 23. Many of these remarkable women were warned not to reveal their secret wartime lives but in this engrossing account, their stories live.

“These Truths” by Jill Lepore

New Yorker writer and Harvard History Professor Lepore explores the ideas, (“these truths”) of political equality, natural rights and the sovereignty of the people in this one-volume American history. She begins with 1492 and recounts five centuries of American politics, law, journalism and technology. Presidents, protest leaders, political operatives (both famous and lesser known) are compellingly drawn. Without ignoring America’s flaws, Lepore delves into an examination of how we make meaning of our nation’s history.

“The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers” by Maxwell King

The first full-length biography of Fred Rogers recounts the life of this gentle soul who taught millions of American children about compassion, equality and kindness. The star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran for nearly forty years, was devoted to children and to taking their hopes and fears seriously. Yes, he was like that in “real life” too.

Last but not least:

“1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life Changing List” by James Mustich

The Washington Post calls this 948-page guide “the ultimate literary bucket list.”

This list is expansive — encompassing fiction, poetry, science, biography, children’s books, history and much more. It includes the classics from Virgil to Toni Morrison but also highlights excellent but lesser-known works Mustich deems worthy of your time and attention. Listed alphabetically by author, each entry features related books to try, movie adaptations and more. In all, six thousand books are covered. As a bonus, there are special lists that focus on specific themes such as “books you can read in one sitting,” “offbeat escapes” and “books to read before you turn 12 for example.