Useful Nonfiction:

The Talk: Conversations about race, love & truth |
Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson

Summary: What are we teaching our young ones about race? Having ‘the talk’ might mean introducing a child to the perils of being different or discussing why “treating everyone the same” isn’t the ultimate solution under systemic racism. Gathering works from 30 diverse authors and artists, the Hudsons present poetry, prose, and examination of current American culture. If racism is a tool used by those wishing to prevent unity or exploit marginalized groups, can The Talk become our new tool to identify and relieve racism?

Gush Sesh: No matter how educated I think I’ve become, there’s always room to learn more.


The Book Collectors: A band of Syrian rebels and the stories that carried them through a war | Delphine Minoui

Summary: Minoui brings a far-off war into immediate perspective with deliberate care for the human aspect. Being bombed daily for four years might destroy a place and its people. Yet, the secret library of Daraya fed souls when they had little else. The folk affected by the Assad regime’s attacks needed more than food, shelter, medical supplies, and hope. A marvelous range of books on offer by the library’s founders lead to shaping their futures.

Gush Sesh: Books educate, keep us in connected to histories, and turn the unfamiliar into something welcome. That magic is powerful. More so when your life is shelled to nothing.


Childfree by Choice: The Movement Redefining Family and Creating a New Age of Independence | Dr. Amy Blackstone

Summary: Understanding the cultural expectation for women to anticipate motherhood leads us to wonder, “What if I don’t want kids?” The choice to remain child-free is often looked upon askance as if this decision were selfish or un-American. Sociologist Dr. Blackstone offers both her own personal experience and some professional research for the reasons behind our assumptions and why opinions might be changing. Additionally discussed is the lack of research or statistics that answer the question, “Can support of the childfree lead to better lives and societies for all?”

Gush Sesh: The decision to have or not have a child is tempered by a thousand influences and motivations. Shouldn’t most of those influences be things you’ve actively considered or discussed? Outside pressure to bring life into the world is extremely robust, but motherhood isn’t the only answer.


Leonardo da Vinci | Walter Isaacson

Summary: This examination of da Vinci’s life starts with the acknowledgement that he wasn’t average. An outsider in many aspects (illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed), he was also a genius who needed to keep his mind busy. What would keep so accomplished an artist from overwhelming success in both monetary and social advancement? He was easily distracted, passionate about blending or comparing disciplines (especially science and art), and prone to avoiding work for others when he didn’t feel the muse. A sculptor, painter, inventor, weapons designer, etc., da Vinci is revealed here as a human being with extraordinary observation skills.

Gush Sesh: Having enjoyed a great many details shared about the artist in Isaacson’s work, my favorite part might have been the tension between Leonardo and Michelangelo, the real geniuses of art and not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


Popular: A Memoir – Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek | Maya Van Wagenen

Summary: Literally in middle school, this teenaged author worked up a book from a social experiment. Using the 1950’s etiquette guide by model-author Betty Cornell to select certain aspects of presentation as a starting point, Van Wagenen develops her own techniques for changing her outward appearance and actions to affect how others see her. It’s a daring examination of the self and a question about popularity: what is it, who’s got it, and can I change mine in the eyes of my peers? Young adults may find her writing style simplistic and casual, but that’s part of her appeal – she’s just like them! Her memoir is reflective and authentic, certainly attainable by teens who are also questioning their popularity.

Gush Sesh: I WISH I’d had this girl’s courage as I entered my middle and high school years.

About the author

Smithton Public Library

The Smithton Public Library District is located in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, MO. The library serves nearly 5,000 residents. We hope you visit us soon!