A rotating showcase for topics of interest: current, historical, local, global. At the Library,
find a physical display highlighting materials in the collection that deepen one’s
understanding of and give context to the featured subject.
“Spotlight On” is also home to “Staff Picks,” where patrons will find reading, viewing,
and listening recommendations, and a forum for book clubs and other groups
in the community to share what they’re enjoying.
June is Pride month as well as Pollinator month!
See our selections below and keep scrolling for recommendations and new additions to our SCIENCE FICTION collection.
Pride Month 2022
In reading about the history of the homosexual civil rights movements of the 20th Century one thing is clear, self descriptive nouns and pronouns are the least of it. See a selection of important books and links below.
-Regina Kelly, Reference Librarian
The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle
Lillian Faderman, is an award winning historian of LGBT history, culture and literature. Professor Faderman, came out as a lesbian when she was a student at Hollywood High School in the 1950’s.
The Gay Revolution marks decade after decade the inevitable break down of depriving gay, lesbian and everyone else along the gender continuum, their right to exist as equal citizens. An outrageous starting point for me was the retroactive dishonorable discharge of veterans of the Second World War and the cruel entrapment games played by members of law enforcement, the military, academia, and religious organizations. As I read, I thought that much of this devastating harassment of American citizens was condoned and “the closet” aside, everyone knew that human sexuality was much more complex than the dominant culture allowed. Professor Faderman is unflinching when describing the founding of The Mattachine Society and The Daughter of Bilitis, and the relatively short period of time until the riot at the mafia bar, The Stonewall Inn (June 28, 1969-July 3, 1969,) and the founding of The Gay Liberation Front that eventually led to marriage equality and the Pride movement.
A good documentary: When Ocean Meets Sky is about the blessed freedom that men and women (and drag queens and theater people and feminist lesbians) found on Fire Island, a few hours away from Manhattan, accessible only by ferry boat.
Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America
Rachel Hope Cleves
An historical take on the 44 year marriage of two women in 1800’s America.
The Stonewall Reader
The Stonewall Reader, edited by New York Public Library and Jason Baumann, essential reading.
The following is content created by Human Rights Watch about same sex love and friendship around the world: http://internap.hrw.org/features/features/lgbt_laws/
The maps are country by country and as you see, there is much work that still needs to be done.
June is my favorite month of the year, and that’s because it’s Pride month! I’m so grateful that this June I have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for LGBTQ+ books for young people at two different Pride events in the rivertowns. I’ll be representing the Library at Friday Night Pride right here in Hastings on June 3, as well as at Greenburgh Pride in Dobbs Ferry on June 25th. Here are (a handful of) the books I’m going to be talking nonstop about, because I love them so much!
-Allee Manning, Youth Services Librarian
This picture book has so much heart, showing a special relationship between a young child and grandpa. Grandad regails the young protagonist with stories of his time spent with Gramps, who has since passed away. The beautiful illustrations depict the couple when they were young, and in doing so help honor the history of LGBTQ+ elders. A beautifully-rendered story with a feel-good ending that may help kids from all kinds of families grapple with issues of grief and loss.
Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring
I absolutely love this child-friendly biography of Keith Haring. It’s the only one I can find that mentions the prolific artist’s identity as a gay man, which became an integral aspect to his late work. And it does so simply and wonderfully in one page through a simple mention of his partner Juan DuBose and the happy home life they shared. The author’s note addresses this intentional choice of his to include mention of Haring’s sexual orientation and skepticism he faced regarding it – a good reminder for all adults working with children.
Elementary / Middle Grade
The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James
Ashley Herring Blake
This is one of my absolute favorite summer reads for middle schoolers. I love the characterization of Sunny and her relationship with the woman who raised her, as well as the quirky island setting. As with the author’s other coming-of-age middle grade novel, Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, issues of trauma, complex familial relationships, and coming into one’s queer identity are handled with much care and heart.
An intriguing, fun graphic novel featuring multiple gender nonconforming characters. It’s a little spooky, lots of fun, and super creative. And the illustrations rule. I absolutely love the bright color palette and vivid setting.
You Should See Me in a Crown
Liz Lighty is a super relatable high school senior that any teen who doesn’t quite fit in will be able to relate to. In a super traditional, super white, super prom obsessed midwestern town, Liz is fine with being on the outside as the queer, Black, and brainy musician. Her surprising campaign for the coveted prom queen title is fueled by her desire for the scholarship that comes with it. When winning not only the crown but also the heart of a competitor she has feelings for seem within reach, Liz is super easy to root for (despite not being perfect).
Felix Ever After
While it’s unfortunate that this book heavily features the trope of public outing, I still maintain that it’s a worthwhile read for its inclusion of themes relating to race, class, and shifting identities in a way that not many YA books capture. Readers will appreciate the journey Felix goes on in finding himself – not through his transition but through the life experiences he is facing in the time after. A great story of self-discovery.
June is also POLLINATOR Month!
We are delighted that the Hastings Pollinator Pathway are reviving the Hastings Seed Exchange—after a hiatus of a few years—at the Hastings Library.
Also, check out these recommended titles from the people who know about pollination! All are available at the Hastings Library as well as a countless number of other gardening books.
-Debbie Quinn, Director
Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners
Seed to Seed is a complete seed-saving guide describing specific techniques for saving the seeds of 160 vegetables. It is regarded as the best guide available for beginning or experienced gardeners to learn effective ways of producing and storing seeds.
Sweetness & Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee
Hattie Ellis traversed the globe to tell the story of bees and honey in all their glory. She explores the mysterious ways of bees, such as how they can make up to twenty-four thousand journeys to produce a single pound of honey. This small insect can carry us through past and present to tell us more about ourselves than any other living creature.
A New Green Day
In this lovely picture book, the voices from the natural world pose a series of riddles to a curious little girl over the course of a summer day. Author and illustrator, Antoinette Portis, turns the commonplace into the extraordinary.
I had the pleasure of having the Library’s fantastic director, Debbie Quinn, offer me the chance to weigh in on how to spend some monies the Library received with the stipulation that it go for science fiction. I’ve read science fiction since it was basically invented, so I was delighted. Added caveats were that it couldn’t already be in the Library’s collection, so I had to determine what approximately 23 books should be added, either missing from the canon or new works worthy of a read.
Science fiction is, of course, an escape – but at its best, and there is a lot of great science fiction out there, it challenges notions of what it is to be human, what constitutes the “normal” around us, allows the author to tweak surroundings so we can view things differently.
Over the course of the last fifteen years, science fiction has been renewed and updated with a big influx of new voices – women, people of color, members of the LGBT community, challenging the narratives and perspectives of a genre that has been dominated by (mostly white)(mostly) men. This has been disruptive and not without the expected controversies (and some very bad behavior) but the results have imbued science fiction with new vigor.
My list here includes older works, as far back as the ‘70s, missing from the Library’s collection but hugely important and still relevant, as well as books largely from the last couple of decades. There’s a surprising amount of humor, optimism and marvel. The two major prizes in the Science Fiction realm are the “Hugo” and the “Nebula” awards. I generally mention when a book has won one or both. These are in order of the author’s last name for no good reason.
-Peter Swiderski, Library Board Member
The Windup Girl
One of my favorite new authors. Two of the first and most vivid and convincing books set in a post-climate change Earth, unrelated to one another. In Windup Girl, set in Thailand, corporations fight wars using bio-weapons and a girl who may not be just a girl struggles to understand her roots. Hugo and Nebular award winner. Brilliant from its first pages.
The Water Knife
The Water Knife is set in a parched Southwest where water rights are more important than ever and national guard helicopter gunships enforce water use. Entirely believable and vivid.
Banks has developed a great universe where aliens, humans and huge AI ships coexist in the “Culture”. His books are intricate, well-written and addictive. Here, he examines the morality of… the afterlife. A fascinating premise that goes places you don’t expect.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Optimistic space opera! Life aboard a starship brimming with colorful characters from a variety of species. One of the new crowd of outside voices who have come to dominate sci-fi lately, I only found out after the fact that this is a LGBT favorite – but I can’t say I noticed since pretty much everything goes in this universe, with everyone cavorting with everyone, regardless of sex or species.
Rendezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
Classic old-school sci fi from one of the original masters. A huge cylindrical alien spaceship is transiting the Solar System and a party of scientific explorers land to investigate the enigmatic contents.
Ready Player One
Sheer fun, especially if you lived through the 80’s and were an aficionado of the music and video games of the era (me!). The owner of a huge online shared virtual reality offers to give it all away to the winner of a challenge where contestants have to solve puzzles based on ‘80s video games. This isn’t high literature by any means, but its great fun. (And way better than the movie.)
The first of a series that was the basis for the Amazon “The Expanse” series (also entirely excellent in its own right) set in a future where Mars and the asteroid belt are all colonized and the politics between Earth, Mars and the “belters” intense. It’s a gritty, hyper-realistic future where physics work as we understand it, and class and political conflict all play major roles.
Omar El Akkad
Dystopic novel set after the next American civil war – low-key, dark, plausible and frighteningly realistic. Not truly science fiction – more like plausible future fiction, and like Cormac McCarthy’s terrifying “The Road”, entirely frightening in an understated way.
To Your Scattered Bodies Go
Philip José Farmer
A great premise: All those who ever lived on Earth have found themselves resurrected – healthy, young, and naked as newborns – on the grassy banks of a mighty river, in a world unknown. Miraculously provided with food, but with no clues to the meaning of their strange new afterlife. One of my favorites from the early 70s, the first of a trilogy, this Hugo Award winner has never been matched. Still count it as a fave.
A mid-1980’s classic that created the “cyberpunk” genre and gave us the term “cyberspace”. Coders (literally) jack into a shared virtual reality on behalf of their corporate patrons to steal data from one another. Remarkably prescient, this came out before the world wide web as we know it and it still totally rocks. Gibson continues to write thoughtful, increasingly mature fiction: this is his (very) strong debut, though most anything he writes is a good read and worth picking up.
This is How You Lose the Time War
Time travel and romance, with two women who race around the timeline trying to alter reality to help their “side” win and eventually develop a relationship via letters they write to one another. An entertaining, beautifully written novella.
The Fifth Season
One of the new wave of outside voices who have stormed the ramparts of white male sci fi writers. This Black, female Hugo and Nebula award winning author has created a world where periodic cataclysms define a civilization constantly disrupted. Vivid and with a twist ending.
You’re a huge ship-based AI who uses human-like androids as remote robots. You download yourself into one of them and become… a person. Like with the best of science fiction, plays with what it means to be human. A great read, which went on to become a series, all of which are worth reading. Won the Hugo.
The author of the Pulitzer-winning “Overstory” updates a science fiction classic, set only a few years away. Less science fiction and more a heartbreaking study of a unique boy, you read this for its intimate emotional context. Beautiful and moving.
The Calculating Stars
Mary Robinette Kowal
Another of the outside voices who came along and changed sci fi. An alternate history where a huge comet annihilates the northeast US in the 1950s and precipitates a race to get off-planet, led by a group of smart and committed women. This Hugo and Nebula awarded winner is hard to put down.
Kim Stanley Robinson
KSR has been churning out hard science fiction for decades – and his early big hit is the first of a three-part series about the colonization of Mars. Sharp politics, hard science and engrossing detail.
Laugh-out-loud funny book set in a Star Trek-like universe. Trekkie fans have always noted that the new cadets on the Enterprise always wear red shirts and are inevitably killed first in any encounter with alien nasties. This is their story and its both funnier and cleverer than you think going in. If you aren’t laughing at the end of the first chapter, put it down and check your pulse. Something might be wrong. The funniest sci fi to win the Hugo.
This Hugo and Nebula award winning classic is a completely engrossing update on Boccaccio’s Decameron: pilgrims heading toward the strange Time Tombs (which are slowly marching backwards in time) encounter the guardian Shrike. I avoided this book for decades because of the cover art (I know! Dumb!), but it turns out to be profound and memorable.
Stephenson’s wildly entertaining ‘80s debut novel set in a corporate-run future where the lead character, Hiro Protaganist (I know, give me a break) battles to contain a strange computer virus that has jumped to people. This is where the term “metaverse” was invented, as well as the concept of the “avatar”. More fun that you can reasonably have. Stephenson has gone on to write one classic after another and always plays with great ideas, even if his books have gotten ponderously long.
All Systems Red
A security robot (“murderbot”) has a malfunction and becomes sentient and capable of choice. It is dead set on understanding its own murderous history, as long as that search doesn’t stop it from enjoying the soap operas to which it is addicted. A totally memorable – and human – lead character with a delightful ironic voice makes this long novella a pleasure to read. First in a series, all enjoyable. (The audio version is also classic.)
The only anthology here, Chiang churns out brilliant little gems that span the range of science fiction themes. He’s shaken up this format and is leaving an impression. (He wrote the story that became the hit movie “Arrival”.)
Blackout and All Clear are Hugo and Nebula award winners, with time-traveling professors stuck in London during the Blitz. As much an immersive study of life during that remarkable moment as a time travel study examining whether it is possible to change the future, they carry you along. The two books are both worth reading and if you share my passion for WWII, hard to put down. They build, and then suck you in.
It’s spring and the Hastings Pollinators Pathway has a comprehensive website and great suggestions on how to do your part in supporting a green community.
The Television News Archive, launched September 2012, is an archive of hundreds of thousands of hours of news programming from 20 different networks, made sharable and searchable through closed captioning data. Follow this link to check it out.
Kudos to the Brooklyn Public Library for their “Books Unbanned” campaign. Read about their mission and check out the support available to libraries throughout the country from the American Library Association.
Outdoor public space has always been a bonus but it became even more coveted during the pandemic. Check out this article with photos/renderings of great outdoor public space–none of them hold a candle to the outdoor space of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library!
Another gem from The New York Times–photos ranging from 1938 to 1994 of New Yorkers reading. Where do you see people reading outdoors around Hastings? Take a photo and DM (direct message) it to us: @hohpubliclibrary or tag us.
Interested in The New York Times best sellers? See them here!
Learn more about the crisis in Ukraine with these resources from the Swampscott Public Library.
Stay current on the pandemic by using this COVID-19 information page on the Community Conversations website, brought to you by Westchester Library System.
SUNY and CUNY are both offering the Nurses for Our Future program as an effort to incentivize people active or interested in the health care field.
You can now turn your smart phone into a mobile PDF scanner! Download the free Adobe Scan app and scan any text, convert to PDF or JPEG, edit and share easily.