Library recommends books to travel the globe this winter | Entertainment

It’s a well-documented fact that in times of economic downturn, readership at libraries goes up, Scott County Library Director Jake Grussing said. 

And the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. 

“Amid so much bad news and difficulty and real pain for people, there’s a hunger for some basic lifelines, and simple, more traditional ways,” Grussing said. “Visiting a library, cracking open a book or downloading a book. People need connections.”

Grussing said the Scott County Library System, which has locations sprinkled throughout the county, has certainly seen an uptick in items being borrowed and it’s a reminder that while “yes, the library is a building with books and computers, it’s a lot more than that.” 

It’s a place for job seeking, for dialogue, for refuge and a place to see a familiar face, he said. Throughout a tumultuous year, libraries have offered up a place to find connection. 

Travel the globe

Staff within the Scott County Library System have compiled a list of five books for adults and five for young adults that follow a travel theme as traveling options are currently limited. The recommendations cover a variety of genres and most have traveling as a theme in the plot and offer opportunities to explore perspective and locales outside of Minnesota, staff said. 

Readers can look up the titles by visiting the library’s website at or by downloading the library’s app “Scott Lib MN” from their app store. Need a library card? The library now offers quick and convenient online registration.

As for a book that has helped Grussing through the last year, a collection of poems by Mary Oliver, titled “Devotions” has done the trick. 

“They’re reflections on nature and connection,” he said. “I’ve found a lot of comfort in the piece and her words.”

For adults

"Beach Read" by Emily Henry

“Beach Read” by Emily Henry. 

Augustus (Gus) Everett and January Andrews have been rival writers since college. Gus is a literary fiction writer struggling to pen his next opus. January is a romance writer who no longer believes in love. They retreat to a beach community and are dismayed to find themselves neighbors. After a series of snarky interactions, they throw down a bet: they will swap genres to combat writer’s block and see who can sell a book first. Of course, that means a lot of time helping each other. Readers will fall in love with the hilarious tit-for-tat dialogue and complex characters in “Beach Read.”

"The Guest List" by Lucy Foley

“The Guest List” by Lucy Foley.

Guests gather on a remote island off the coast of Ireland to celebrate the nuptials of a glamorous couple. It was supposed to be the perfect wedding, and then someone ends up dead. If you love remote thrillers, you will stay enraptured to the very end.

"Pasta Grannies: the Secrets of Italy's Best Home Cooks" by Vicky Bennison

“Pasta Grannies: the Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks” by Vicky Bennison. 

Inspired by the popular YouTube channel, “Pasta Grannies” compiles over 70 recipes from Italian grandmothers who have spent a lifetime perfecting the art of pasta-making. We basked in the full-color photos of picturesque Italian villages and delicious pastas. Readers will love meeting the grannies. It will inspire you to call your grandma and write down her recipes for safekeeping.

"Searching for Sylvie Lee" by Jean Kwok

“Searching for Sylvie Lee” by Jean Kwok. 

When brilliant and successful Sylvie Lee disappears on a trip to the Netherlands to visit relatives, her Chinese American family is distraught. Her adoring younger sister Amy flies to the Netherlands to retrace her steps and question her relatives. Along the way, Amy discovers that her extended family has been hiding secrets she never could have imagined.

Literary fiction, 2018. 

"There There" by Tammy Orange

“There There” by Tammy Orange

Told from different perspectives, “There There” follows 12 Native Americans as they travel to a powwow in Oakland, California. Some are eager to find connections through the festivities and others have darker intentions. Their stories all collide in an explosive ending. This isn’t an easy read, but it’s important and engrossing. Each voice reveals untold or buried stories of Native Americans throughout history. “There There” will stay with you for a long time.

For young adults

"Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir" by Robin Ha

“Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir” by Robin Ha.


Growing up in 1990s Korea is tough for Chuna and her single mother, who make the best of things together through travel. On a “vacation” to Huntsville, Alabama, Chuna’s mother reveals they are permanently relocating so her mother can get married. Shocked, Chuna is forced to become “Robin” and rapidly assimilate to American customs despite language barriers and racist mistreatment from her peers. This touching memoir, made more vivid as a graphic novel, will speak to any teen who feels stuck. The story is relatable and offers an honest perspective on what it’s like to grow up in two drastically different cultures.

"Clap When You Land" by Elizabeth Acevedo

“Clap When You Land” by Elizabeth Acevedo. 


Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira Rios lives in New York City. Camino and Yahaira have never met, but on a fateful day they are both devastated by the same tragedy: the American Airlines Flight 587 plane crash of November 2001. In the aftermath, the two girls learn they are sisters and their father was kept secrets from both their families. This is a great opportunity to try a novel in verse, or a story told through poems. The format allows each character’s voice to shine through.

Historical fiction, 2019. 

"The Fountains of Silence" by Ruta Sepetys

“The Fountains of Silence” by Ruta Sepetys.



Madrid, 1957. Eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson arrives in Spain with his oil tycoon parents, hoping to enjoy a luxury experience in his mother’s homeland with his camera. Daniel connects with Ana Moreno through photography and fate. As Daniel’s relationship with Ana deepens, he begins to see how she and others are oppressed under General Francisco Franco’s rule. Rich with detail and unforgettable characters, Ruta Sepetys makes history come alive.

"Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

After receiving a mysterious letter from her recently married cousin Catalina, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a mansion in the remote Mexican countryside. Noemí immediately senses something deeply wrong with Catalina, High Place, and its inhabitants. “Mexican Gothic” infuses Mexican folklore into a familiar atmospheric gothic story, in an utterly fascinating way. It is being adapted into an upcoming Hulu series, so now is a great chance to read before watching.

"When Stars Are Scattered" by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

“When Stars Are Scattered” by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed.


Omar Mohamed lives in Dadaab, a Somali refugee camp in Kenya. Omar spends most of his time in caring for his nonverbal younger brother Hassan, his last remaining family member. When Omar is offered an opportunity to attend school, he struggles with his desire to change their future and his brother’s immediate needs. Who will care for Hassan? This tender true story will move readers in both middle school and high school.

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