Dive into far-off cultures or celebrate those close to home with these selections, available for free from the New Orleans Public Library:
Paulina Bren’s The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free, is the fascinating story of one of New York City’s most famous residential hotels, the women who lived there (Sylvia Plath, Liza Minnelli, Grace Kelly, and Joan Didion, to name a few), and how their time in the Barbizon shaped their futures.
Beyond simply telling the biography of a building, Bren vividly illustrates these young women’s lives as they search for something more, while navigating the rapidly changing social culture and customs of 20th century New York.
Prospect.5 New Orleans: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow archives the 2021 Prospect New Orleans exhibition, a citywide contemporary art triennial that started in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In this exhibition catalog, artistic directors Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi bring together 51 artists to engage New Orleans as context as they reconsider the concept of history, both global and local.
Memphis by Tara Stringfellow traces three generations of a Southern Black family as one daughter learns the generational sacrifices that ensured her life wouldn’t be defined by loss and anger while simultaneously discovering a power that might help change her family’s legacy. Along the way, she finds she is part of a long matrilineal tradition, which is exactly what she needs to help her family heal.
Transport yourself across the ocean to the seaside town of Algarve, Portugal with Lídia Jorge’s The Wind Whistling in the Cranes. This Romeo and Juliet-esque tale tells the story of two families: the landlords and tenants of a derelict canning factory. Set in a beautiful town haunted by its colonial past, the characters must reckon with the present-day toll of the racial, social, and economic history of Portugal.
Louise Erdrich’s new novel The Sentence bottles a wild time that we’re all too familiar with: today’s cultural climate. While many of us turn to books to escape the present, Erdich expertly examines current events through a completely fresh take.
The story follows Tookie, a Native American woman working at a Minneapolis bookstore during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and George Floyd protests. As you can imagine, Tookie’s world is surrounded by turmoil and death–including the ghost of “her most annoying customer,” who has chosen to spend her afterlife haunting her store.
All of You Every Single One by Beatrice Hitchman follows three couples whose stories are woven together in their bohemian Vienna community. The tale spans from 1910 to 1946 to explore love, freedom, and what constitutes a family.
New Orleans architecture is arguably one of our city’s most iconic features. However, studies largely ignore the influence of one major demographic: free people of color. In Building Antebellum New Orleans, Tara A. Dudley corrects the record by examining the architectural activities and influence of gens de couleur libres in a city that, to this day, is defined by their traditions.