Summer Reads

Takoma Park Library

Summer Reads

Making and discovering history, here in DC and abroad. Returning characters have mysteries to solve and new adventures. Below are a selection of titles I enjoyed reading over the summer months. Copies are available to check out and download from the library.

Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini
When the United States entered WWI in 1917, there was a great need for reliable telephone operators since the army didn't have enough. At General John Pershing's request, women phone operators were recruited from all the major phone companies across the country. They were given official uniforms and specialized training and were sent to France. Readers follow a few of these women phone operators at their assignments over a two year period. A historical afterward follows the text. A fascinating read!
You can read more about the women phone operators in Hello Girls by Elizabeth Cobbs.

The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel by Isaac Babel, edited by Nathalie Babel, translated by Peter Constantine
Starting in the 1920s, Isaac Babel was one of the most prominent writers in Russia. His native Odessa and military service inspired his best known short story collections. Babel's later writings led to his arrest and death in 1940. This award winning book features all of Babel's short stories, his diary from 1920, newspaper articles, two plays, movie screenplays, and more. Many of Babel's writings were unavailable in English translation for many years. The book is the legacy of a great writer who could've written much more if he lived longer. Biographical essays, explanatory notes, chronology, and photos are included.
To complement your reading, the documentary "Finding Babel" (2015) is available on Kanopy.
Note: I have the same last name as Mr. Babel but we're not related.

Rivals: American Royals III by Katharine McGee
In alternate America, Queen Beatrice Washington is attending her first League of Kings as the ruling monarch. Her two younger siblings are making waves. Princess Samantha becomes serious with Marshall, Duke of Orange. Prince Jefferson starts his first semester of college. Long time rivals Nina and Daphne have to deal with a new rival, Lady Gabriella Madison. This is the new and third installment in the popular "American Royals" series. The fourth installment is coming next year! I recommend reading the novels in order.

The NAACP in Washington, DC: From Jim Crow to Home Rule by Derek Gray
In March 1912, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) opened its doors here in the District, its fourth branch office in the nation. The DC branch actively advocated for the interests of African-Americans locally and nationally for civil rights. There were successes and challenges along the way. A well-written local history by a first time author! Black and white archival images and photos throughout the text.

Sixteenth Street NW: Washington DC's Avenue of Ambitions by John DeFerrari and Douglas Peter Sefton
One of the District's major streets, Sixteenth Street is a fascinating mix of history and architecture. The authors chronicle the street's development from the 18th century to the present. As the street extended over the years, residential neighborhoods replaced farms and mills. Various major organizations and embassies made their offices on Sixteenth Street too. A fascinating account! Archival images and maps are included throughout the book.

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
Vienna, 1767. Young Archduchesses Charlotte and Antoine find an embroidery covered book belonging to their dead governess. It's a book of magic spells--it's the beginning for the two sisters and their magical works in this historical fantasy novel. As Charlotte and Antoine get older, their mother Empress Maria Theresa of Austria-Hungary, arranges important marriages for both. Charlotte is sent to Naples; Antoine to France. As sister Queens, they meet fellow magicians in their new countries and put their magical skills to use.The sisters' actions and decisions influence the course of history.

Other reading highlights
Tear Down the Throne by Jennifer Estep
Princess Gemma of Andvari and her family are attending a royal Summit. There's someone among the royal attendees who's making it deadly to be there. This is the second installment in the "Gargoyle Queen" series.

A Bride's Guide to Marriage and Murder by Dianne Freeman
Frances and George and their wedding guests are shocked to see a dead body in the fifth installment of the "Countess of Harleigh Mystery" series.

Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck
In 2016, the author built a flatboat and sailed with a small crew down the Mississippi River. A lively mix of travelogue and history! His previous adventure on The Oregon Trail is also available.
~Elisa Babel, Adult Librarian