Here at the library, we love our local authors! And while we have many excellent titles in our Local Creators Collection, I haven’t had nearly enough time to sample them all. So, today, I wanted to talk about a few of my favorites. Some of these books can be found on our Local Authors shelf, while others will be interfiled in the stacks. But, regardless of where you’ll find them, I hope you’ll find that you love the selections that I’m sharing with you here.
Local filmmaker Angeline Walsh just recently presented at the library. She was here to talk about her newest endeavor, a film series (that can be viewed for free on YouTube) called The Coroner’s Assistant. The series is funny and dark and absolutely fascinating and this librarian highly recommends you check it out. However, if you’d prefer a book, I have two to suggest.
Memento Mortale is a historical fiction tale with a supernatural twist. After the Mortale family decides to turn their home into a funeral parlor, following a Yellow Fever outbreak, life is turned completely upside down for young Mildred (aged 13½). Decidedly average, Mildred has nothing to distinguish her from her more interesting siblings, until she realizes that she can communicate with the dead.
The poetry lover would perhaps prefer Bad Psychiatry, Walsh’s poetry collection. This book covers a variety of topics, although the mood remains mostly softly dark and melancholy, without being depressing. Covering everything from lost love to mental illness and death, Walsh’s poetry makes for excellent reading.
There are many reasons to like Calen Templeton’s books, but there are two reasons in particular that I liked them. First, he writes true stories set in Cleveland, detailing his life from childhood to adulthood. I love that I can recognize many of the locations, that even though Templeton is older than I am, I still feel like he’s talking about many of staples of my childhood, too. The other reason I love this author’s work is because of his creative formats and unique way of writing.
A Few Cards Short is told through a deck of cards, where each story about the author’s childhood is represented by each of the cards of the four suits (heart, diamond, club, and spade). The book is meant to be read with a deck of cards–shuffle the deck, pick a card, and read the story; repeat until the deck (and the book) is done. Of course, you can just read the book cover to cover (which is what I did), but it will ruin some of the fun, so I recommend reading it the way that it was intended.
On Borrowed Time is a more difficult read. Templeton is suffering from renal failure. He wrote a chapter of his book every night while he sat through dialysis. The is a raw vulnerability to the book that makes for a fascinating and deeply personal read. While it was certainly not as fun as A Few Cards Short, it makes for a beautifully written book unlike anything else I’ve read.
Karly West is the brilliant mind behind The Scholarly Banana, a fun and creative series of fairy tale retellings told through the aid of one very smart banana–he has glasses, so you can totally tell! If you grew up in the the ’90s and watched the PBS TV series Wishbone, you might get a similar vibe. Basically, each retelling features our titular banana in the role of one of the characters of the fairy tale, whether he’s the wizard Fitcher or Little Red Riding Hood.
These hilarious stories are not for children, but the young at heart will certainly find a lot to enjoy. Each book is lovingly illustrated using handmade clay models and Photoshop, and is accompanied by supplementary materials in the back of the book that not only tells the reader the original story (sans banana), but also provides alternate versions and fascinating insights into each tale. Since these are standalone adventures, you can really start anywhere, but in publication order, they are: Fitcher’s Bird (a variation on the classic Bluebeard tale); The Juniper Tree (a tale of wicked stepmothers, cannibalism, and singing birds); Little Red Riding Hood (a girl, a wolf, a grandma); and Rapunzel (also known as the world’s most expensive salad).
Finally, let’s wrap things up with the most prolific author on this list. The titles I’m sharing below are just a small selection of Mark Dawidziak’s body of work. Dawidziak is an actor, a writer, and a former college professor at Kent State University. He has written over 25 books on a variety of topics, but mostly focused on TV, film, and classic literature. Along with his wife, Sara Showman, he has given multiple performances at the library on a variety of topics, ranging from the Universal Monsters to Mark Twain, and we just hosted him for a presentation on The Twilight Zone.
If you’re looking for something on the spooky side, consider checking out The Bedside, Bathtub, and Armchair Companion to Dracula, which looks at the history and various incarnations of the famous Count. Or, perhaps you might enjoy A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe, the author’s newest book. For fans of classic film and TV, we have The Shawshank Redemption Revealed and Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone, the topic of Dawidziak’s latest program. And finally, for my fellow Mark Twain fans, we have Mark Twain for Cat Lovers and Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health, and Happiness.
Remember: this is just a small sample of the many excellent authors we have in our collection! So, stop by our Local Creators Collection (across from the holds pickup shelf) and check out a book today!
Join us September 10-16, 2023, for Welcoming Week at WPPL with events and more aimed at building strong connections with neighbors of all backgrounds. The week culminates with the Community Welcome Fair featuring local groups sharing their stories, traditions and food.
Read more blog posts about the ways Ohio, Westlake, and your local library are welcoming everyone to the community.