Complete the form below each time you complete a Winter Reading Challenge to enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble.
Winter Reading Programs
Winter Reading Challenges
Check out the Winter Reading Recommendations below or the CCPL Readers Group on Facebook for reading recommendations for each challenge.
- 1. Best of 2021
Read or listen to a book from 2021 recommended by CCPL.
- 2. Don't Get Left Out in the Cold
Embrace the cold with a book that takes place during a blizzard, avalanche, or the icy depths of winter.
- 3. Streamed It, Now Read It
Read or listen to the book that inspired your favorite series or movie.
- 4. Extra! Extra! Read All About It
Read or listen to a book about a historical figure or event... big or small... good or bad.
- 5. Up all Night
Read or listen to a thriller or true life adventure sure to keep you awake well past bedtime.
- 6. Read Local
Cecil County, Maryland and the Delmarva region--it's all local to us. Select a book with a local author or setting to meet this challenge.
- 7. Friend or Foe?
Explore the shadowy world of secret agents where the spy could be halfway around the world or just next door.
- 8. Short on Time
Read or listen in bite-size chunks with a collection of short stories, poems, or essays.
- 9. BookTok Made Me Read It
Read or listen to something new highlighted on this social media sensation.
- 10. Heard It From a Friend
Now is the time to read or listen to a title all your friends are recommending. Check out the Staff Favorites on the Recommended Reads page of the website for choices from your friends at CCPL.
Reading Challenge: Extra! Extra! Read All About It
The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King
Raising the literary bar to a new level, Jerome Charyn re-creates the voice of Theodore Roosevelt, the New York City police commissioner, Rough Rider, and soon- to-be twenty-sixth president through his derring-do adventures, effortlessly combining superhero dialogue with haunting pathos. Beginning with his sickly childhood and concluding with McKinley's assassination, the novel positions Roosevelt as a "perfect bull in a china shop," a fearless crime fighter and pioneering environmentalist who would grow up to be our greatest peacetime president.
With an operatic cast, including "Bamie," his handicapped older sister; Eleanor, his gawky little niece; as well as the devoted Rough Riders, the novel memorably features the lovable mountain lion Josephine, who helped train Roosevelt for his "crowded hour," the charge up San Juan Hill. Lauded by Jonathan Lethem for his "polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing," Charyn has created a classic of historical fiction, confirming his place as "one of the most important writers in American literature" (Michael Chabon).
Clara and Mr. Tiffany
Against the unforgettable backdrop of New York near the turn of the twentieth century, from the Gilded Age world of formal balls and opera to the immigrant poverty of the Lower East Side, bestselling author Susan Vreeland again breathes life into a work of art in this extraordinary novel, which brings a woman once lost in the shadows into vivid color.
It's 1893, and at the Chicago World's Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows, which he hopes will honor his family business and earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women's division. Publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, Clara conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered.
The Healing of Natalie Curtis
Classically trained pianist and singer Natalie Curtis isolated herself for five years after a breakdown just before she was to debut with the New York Philharmonic. Guilt-ridden and songless, Natalie can't seem to recapture the joy music once brought her. In 1902, her brother invites her to join him in the West to search for healing. What she finds are songs she'd never before encountered--the haunting melodies, rhythms, and stories of Native Americans.
But their music is under attack. The US government's Code of Offenses prohibits American's indigenous people from singing, dancing, or speaking their own languages as the powers that be insist on assimilation. Natalie makes it her mission not only to document these songs before they disappear but to appeal to President Teddy Roosevelt himself, who is the only man with the power to repeal the unjust law. Will she succeed and step into a new song . . . and a new future?
She was Emily Dickinson's maid, her confidante, her betrayer... and the savior of her legacy.
An evocative new novel about Emily Dickinson's longtime maid, Irish immigrant Margaret Maher, whose bond with the poet ensured Dickinson's work would live on.
In this richly drawn novel, Amy Belding Brown explores what it is to be an outsider looking in, and she sheds light on one of Dickinson's closest confidantes--perhaps the person who knew the mysterious poet best--whose quiet act changed history and continues to influence literature to this very day.
Love and Fury
From the acclaimed author of Mr. Dickens and His Carol, a richly-imagined reckoning with the life of another cherished literary legend: Mary Wollstonecraft – arguably the world’s first feminist.
August, 1797. Midwife Parthenia Blenkinsop has delivered countless babies, but nothing prepares her for the experience that unfolds when she arrives at Mary Wollstonecraft’s door. Over the eleven harrowing days that follow, as Mrs. Blenkinsop fights for the survival of both mother and newborn, Wollstonecraft recounts the life she dared to live amidst the impossible constraints and prejudices of the late 18th century, rejecting the tyranny of men and marriage, risking everything to demand equality for herself and all women. She weaves her riveting tale to give her fragile daughter a reason to live, even as her own strength wanes. Wollstonecraft’s urgent story of loss and triumph forms the heartbreakingly brief intersection between the lives of a mother and daughter who will change the arc of history and thought.
In radiant prose, Samantha Silva delivers an ode to the dazzling life of Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the world's most influential thinkers and mother of the famous novelist Mary Shelley. But at its heart, Love and Fury is a story about the power of a woman reclaiming her own narrative to pass on to her daughter, and all daughters, for generations to come.
The Eagle and the Viper
Part high-octane suspense, part dire warning, The Eagle and the Viper from multiple-winning novelist Loren D. Estleman reveals how close our world came—at the dawn of a promising new century—to total war.
It’s a time of improvised explosive devices, terrorist training camps, international assassins, and war on civilians. It’s Christmas Eve, 1800. This much is history: On Christmas Eve, 1800, an “infernal machine” exploded in one of the busiest streets in Paris, France, destroying buildings and killing innocent civilians. It wasn’t the first attempt on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the newly minted Republic of France.
This much is exclusive to our story: Upon the failure of the Christmas Eve plot, the conspiracy takes a new and more diabolical turn. Posterity knows what became of Napoleon: He led France into a series of military adventures that ended in his defeat, followed by decades of peace. But this future hung on a precarious thread. One man can make history; another can change it.
The Social Graces
The author of Park Avenue Summer throws back the curtain on one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Alva Vanderbilt and the Mrs. Astor's notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.
Out of Darkness, Shining Light
A powerful, moving, and revelatory novel set in nineteenth-century Africa--the captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried the body of explorer and missionary David Livingstone from Zambia to Zanzibar so that his remains could be returned home to England.
Learning to See
In 1918, a fearless twenty-two-year old arrives in bohemian San Francisco from the Northeast, determined to make her own way as an independent woman. Renaming herself Dorothea Lange she is soon the celebrated owner of the city’s most prestigious and stylish portrait studio and wife of the talented but volatile painter, Maynard Dixon.
By the early 1930s, as America’s economy collapses, her marriage founders and Dorothea must find ways to support her two young sons single-handedly. Determined to expose the horrific conditions of the nation’s poor, she takes to the road with her camera, creating images that inspire, reform, and define the era. And when the United States enters World War II, Dorothea chooses to confront another injustice—the incarceration of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans.
At a time when women were supposed to keep the home fires burning, Dorothea Lange, creator of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, dares to be different. But her choices came at a steep price…
The General's Cook
Philadelphia 1793. Hercules, President George Washington’s chef, is a fixture on the Philadelphia scene. He is famous for both his culinary prowess and for ruling his kitchen like a commanding general. He has his run of the city and earns twice the salary of an average American workingman. He wears beautiful clothes and attends the theater. But while valued by the Washingtons for his prowess in the kitchen and rewarded far over and above even white servants, Hercules is enslaved in a city where most black Americans are free. Even while he masterfully manages his kitchen and the lives of those in and around it, Hercules harbors secrets-- including the fact that he is learning to read and that he is involved in a dangerous affair with Thelma, a mixed-race woman, who, passing as white, works as a companion to the daughter of one of Philadelphia's most prestigious families. Eventually Hercules’ carefully crafted intrigues fall apart and he finds himself trapped by his circumstance and the will of George Washington. Based on actual historical events and people, The General's Cook, will thrill fans of The Hamilton Affair, as they follow Hercules' precarious and terrifying bid for freedom.
Rust & Stardust
Camden, NJ, 1948. When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth's, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.
Based on the experiences of real-life kidnapping victim Sally Horner and her captor, whose story shocked the nation and inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita, this heart-pounding story by award-winning author T. Greenwood at last gives a voice to Sally herself.
Sooner or later, history asks, which side were you on?
In his powerful new novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War
Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history—culpable regardless of her intentions.
The Confederacy falling, her marriage in tatters, and the country divided, Varina and her children escape Richmond and travel south on their own, now fugitives with “bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit.”
Intimate in its detailed observations of one woman’s tragic life and epic in its scope and power, Varina is a novel of an American war and its aftermath. Ultimately, the book is a portrait of a woman who comes to realize that complicity carries consequences.
Lincoln in the Bardo
February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.
From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.
No, I didn't kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn't dump the body in the station mall.
When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)
Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!...Again!
A Different Dawn
For nearly thirty years a serial killer has been hiding in plain sight. So has the key to an FBI agent's dark past.
A family is murdered as they sleep. FBI Special Agent Nina Guerrera and her new team are tasked with determining whether there is any link between this attack and another triple homicide from four years earlier and more than two thousand miles away. In the process, they'll discover a serial killer so cunning that his grisly trail of death spanning nearly three decades has gone undetected. Each crime scene reminds Nina of the ghostly Latin folktale of La Llorona, which terrified her when she was an abandoned and vulnerable child. Now it's back to haunt her.