It’s Complicated – Books About Relationships

Chances are this past Valentine’s Day your Facebook feed had a few people who updated their relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship” or “engaged.” My favorite relationship status, though, has always been the ambiguous “It’s Complicated.” I’m always curious what is going on in those relationships, and I love books that allow me to peek inside the relationships of seemingly happy couples. This month, I’m recommending my favorite books that deal with marriages and relationships that are definitely complicated.


Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff

The phrase “there are two sides to every story” takes on new meaning in this book on marriage. The first half of the book tells the story of Lotto’s 24-year marriage from his perspective. The second half of the book tells the same love story from his wife Mathilde’s perspective. Needless to say, neither Lotto nor Mathilde remembers the marriage quite the same, and there are a lot of secrets and surprises for the reader.




All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Any couple who has struggled with infertility knows the stress this can put on a relationship. In All Your Perfects,  Hoover tells the story of Quinn and Graham in two timelines. In the first timeline, they are meeting and falling in love with all the sweet silliness of a true love story. In the second timeline, we see the couple 8 years into their marriage after they have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive and their marriage is falling apart. Along the way, Hoover explores what keeps a relationship together and what pushes it apart. Be warned: This one might make you cry.



Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

Ever wonder what might possibly motivate an ex-wife to move in with the ex-husband she hates? Genova’s book will answer that question. Richard and Karina have been divorced for years. When Richard receives an ALS diagnosis and needs help, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. The book follows Richard’s health decline, the decline of their marriage years ago, and the healing of some long-held hurts in their relationship. It is a heavier read, but I thought it ended on a very hopeful note.



After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Lauren and Ryan have been married awhile and are wondering if it’s worth it to stay together when they both are so unhappy. They decide to take a year off from marriage with only one rule: they cannot contact each other during the year off. In the pages of After I Do, Reid realistically explores love, marriage, and a variety of relationships through the main characters and their family and friends. She offers ideas for what keeps us together and what drives us apart.




An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy are just settling into their marriage when Roy is convicted of a crime and sentenced to 12 years in prison. For five years, they are forced apart until his conviction is overturned, and they are reunited. However, the time alone for Celestial and the time in prison for Ray have left a toll on their marriage. There are no “bad guys” in this book, just an honest exploration of marriage, relationships, and the impact of incarceration on everyone.




Looking for more suggestions? Here are some “It’s Complicated” honorable mentions

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall


Kelley Brandeberry is a Public Service Associate at the Scheben Branch and leads the Chapter and Verse Book Group. She is an avid reader of all types of books and is always on the lookout for her next favorite.

10 Heartfelt Picture Books for Readers of All Ages

While adults may think picture books are typically just fun stories for kiddos, some know they can also be wonderful and emotional experiences. In the list below, BCPL staff members have come together to share their favorite heartfelt and touching stories that readers of all ages can enjoy. Prepare yourself for a bit of crying and a bit of smiling with this bundle of beautiful stories.

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The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros

Emily Cornett, Early Literary Specialist says: 
My current favorite heartfelt picture book is The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros. I was not prepared for how deeply I would relate to the little boy watching his grandpa’s “remember balloons” float away into the sky. It is a beautiful and unique way of explaining dementia to children.

Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco

Ginger Stapp, Early Literary Specialist says: 
Tucky Joe and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite picture books for elementary school-age students. An American soldier helps a child during the Vietnam War and later in life sees the results of that kindness. This author’s work has always touched my heart because the characters she creates through her stories and art are vibrant, real, and good. The emotions she shows in her work are deep without being overdone. Adults and children will enjoy her work when they read it together and it is great for starting conversations and building a desire to know more about history. Like a lot of good children’s fiction and media, her work is for everyone, not just for children.

Ida, Always by Carson Levis
Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb

Emily Sexton, Public Relations Specialist says: 
Two books that have always stuck out to me as intensely heartfelt are Ida, Always and Paul Meets Bernadette. While Ida, Always tells the important story of two polar bears trying to grapple with the concept of loss, Paul Meets Bernadette tells the sweet story of what happens when you make a new friend. Both stories are subtle, poignant, and beautiful.

Floaty by John Himmelman

Jenny Plummer, Youth Services Librarian says: 
Floaty by John Himmelman is the story of an elderly man who hates everything and the very special puppy that appears in a basket on his doorstep. This silly story with heart is perfect for fans of the film Up!

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Wilanne Stangel, Youth Services Associate says: 
A heartfelt favorite is How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz. This is a fictionalized story of Shulevitz’s own childhood experiences as a refuge from war-torn Europe during WWII. Having lost everything, Uri’s father goes to the market to see what little bread he can find for his family. Finding that he can’t afford enough to satisfy his family’s hunger, he returns instead with a large, colorfully illustrated map. The map winds up “feeding” his son in many other ways; feeding Uri’s imagination, curiosity, and fostering his love of illustration which ultimately led Uri to his life’s work.

Another favorite is Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco. Based on a family story that has been passed down through generations of Polacco’s family. It’s the story of one of her ancestors who goes off as a young boy to fight in the Civil War. He meets up with another young boy, who has escaped slavery to fight for the Union forces. It’s a beautiful story and quite a tearjerker!

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Cindy Donaldson, Youth Services Associate says: 
My very favorite heartfelt book is The Velveteen Rabbit. Oh, yes, becoming real…it does, in fact, hurt sometimes. But it is worth it…

Love by Matt de la Peña
In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford

Krista King-Oaks, Youth Services Manager says:
I had been working in libraries and children’s literature for over a decade before I became a mother, and while it sounds cliché, when my daughter was born, it was as if I were seeing picture books with brand new eyes. There is the assumption that picture books are for children; however, there are many books created specifically with adults in mind. Two of my favorites – which were both gifted to me and are featured in her newborn photos – are Love by Matt de la Pena & Loren Long, and In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford and Brian Pinkney. While both books are created by acclaimed authors of color, the messages are universal for any parent. Two years later, I can’t open either book without tearing up.

Suggestions written by BCPL staff and complied by Emily Sexton, Public Relations Specialist

Festive must-reads to squeeze in!

I’ve been reading and listening to festive books since the beginning of November. Some may say I’m rushing the season, but how am I supposed to squeeze in all of the holiday fun if I wait until December 1? Here are some of the books I’ve completed this season that may give you last minute ways to incorporate a little more cheer this holiday season!

The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn

The first thing you need to know is that this is a completely fictionalized story based on factual elements of Santa’s origins. Based on some reviews I read, I think readers may have thought this was a biography of the actual St. Nicholas and progression of the Santa Claus character over time. This story is told by Santa to the author, Jeff Guinn, and contains many familiar historic events and legendary characters up until more modern times. It began a little slow and overly descriptive, but the pace began to pick up as Santa began to travel more and meet “helpers” which you will probably remember from history. I’m a fan of magic, alternative history, and Christmas, so this ended up being much better than initially thought a few chapters into listening! I do think this was better as an audiobook than written, but I’m also a big fan of audiobooks.


Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Have you seen Christmas with the Kranks? The movie was based on the book Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, of all authors. It doesn’t have the best scores on movie rating sites, but I personally enjoyed Christmas with the Kranks enough to check out the source material once I found out it was based on a book. Skipping Christmas was as funny as the movie. It’s a lighthearted, easy read that I was able to get through within a few nights. What impressed me the most was that overall, most of this book held up well given the fact that it was written almost 20 years ago. Often books like this have outdated cultural references, but Grisham did a pretty good job avoiding that. There are some terms that aren’t necessarily in wide use today, but not enough for me to realize that this book was as old as it is. Definitely a good, quick read.


Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

I’ve been a fan of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective for years. So when I realized I hadn’t read this Christmas story, I just had to check it out. Like all of Christie’s books, it paints a detailed picture of the setting and characters during what is supposed to be a traditional English Christmas. Millionaire Simeon Lee invites his entire family to his estate for Christmas. This family has a lot of internal conflicts, many of which involve Simeon himself, so these invitations are surprising. Like most stories featuring Poirot, murder, romance, and surprise are major parts of this Christmas tale. I can’t say too much without ruining the book, but I was definitely surprised by the ending and recommend it to any mystery fan!

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

Another Hercule Poirot holiday classic! This is technically a short story, but is also a stand-alone book. It’s just enough to satisfy the need for a little holiday mystery, but can be read in one sitting if you are a little short on time. Poirot is begrudgingly spending Christmas in the cold English countryside attempting to secretly solve a mystery for a prince at Christmas time. Without spoiling it, just know that the Christmas pudding does have an important role in this story and isn’t just part of the title!

These are just a few of the titles we have in our collection to provide you with a little more joy this time of year, or really anytime! There are many, many books in the holiday genre that I haven’t had time to read yet. Do you have a favorite book you’ve read that is set during the holiday season? I would love to know for next year. Until then, happy reading this holiday season!


Kelsey Shackelford is the Community Events Liaison for Boone County Public Library.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month – Chapter Books for Children

Native American Heritage Month was established in 1990 as a time to celebrate and recognize Native Americans’ numerous contributions to the United States of America. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a large number of books being published that are written and illustrated by Indigenous people, and we’d love to see these #OwnVoices titles get a bit more love. Here are a few chapter books for children to check out!

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManus with Traci Sorell

When Regina Petit’s family finds out that the federal government has determined that her tribe no longer exists, her father decides to move the family to Los Angeles. Once they relocate, Regina tries to understand her identity while being so far away from home. This book is great for anyone who loves historical fiction.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III

While Jimmy spends his summer on a journey with his grandfather, his grandfather shares the story of Crazy Horse. As the book switches from the life of Crazy Horse to Jimmy and his summer, Jimmy begins to understanding more about his family history. A must read for those who like fiction that incorporates nonfiction elements.

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

Edie always knew that her mom was adopted, but is curious about her Native American heritage. One day, she discovers a box that has letters with photos of a woman that looks just like her. Armed with all these questions about her heritage, she now wants to discover as much as she can.  This book delves into the feelings that can arise when you are not connected to a portion of your heritage and the journey to learn more.

Continue celebrating Native American Heritage Month with the following:

Board Books & Picture Books

Nonfiction for Children

Teen and Young Teen


For additional titles, ask your friendly neighborhood librarian, or check out this great resources page from the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition.


Written by Pamela Jayne
Youth Services Librarian

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month – Teen and Young Teen

Native American Heritage Month was established in 1990 as a time to celebrate and recognize Native Americans’ numerous contributions to the United States of America.  Over the last few years, we’ve seen a large number of books being published that are written and illustrated by Indigenous people, and we’d love to see these #OwnVoices titles get a bit more love. Here are a few teen and young teen titles to check out!


An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, adapted from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

In this nonfiction title, which is an adaptation of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, teens will explore history told from Indigenous peoples’ perspectives. An abundance of information is covered, but in the end, it’s worth the deep dive.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

The Indigenous people of North America are the only ones with the ability to dream. Now being hunted by those who want to harvest their dream-carrying bone marrow, Frenchie and his group must stay hidden in order to survive. Will they ever be able to defeat the marrow thieves? Perfect for those who love dystopian novels!

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

At the beginning of senior year, Louise breaks up with her boyfriend after he mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her. She’s okay with it – she wants to focus on her friends, family, and working on the school newspaper. When editors pair her up with Joey, the new photojournalist, for a story about the school musical, sparks fly. Will Louise be able to open her heart to a new relationship? Contemporary romance, anyone?



The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

Morgan and Eli are two Indigenous children in foster care. While exploring their foster home, they find a secret portal in the attic which leads to a frozen, barren world. As they discover their new friends might be in danger, Morgan and Eli try to save them before it’s too late. Perfect for fans of fantasy! 

Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley

Apple is trying to find her place in the world and is having a difficult time. After being called a slur for someone who is white and Native, she turns her back on her heritage. When her father forces her to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota for the first time, Apple tries to find a connection to her dead mother and rediscover her roots. A contemporary coming of age novel!

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

Lewis knows the ups and downs of living on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975. When George moves to town, the boys become friends. However, Lewis lies to hide the poverty his family experiences. Once George knows the truth, will he still want to be friends with Lewis? This historical fiction does not shy away from discussion of racial tensions and the realities of living on the reservation.

Continue celebrating Native American Heritage Month with the following:

Board Books & Picture Books

Nonfiction for Children

Chapter Books for Children


For additional titles, ask your friendly neighborhood librarian, or check out this great resources page from the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition.


Written by Pamela Jayne
Youth Services Librarian