“Just Go Knock on the Door!”

81E84+ww+YLBooks on Tap read Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak at  Champion Brewery on December 6. Hornak, a journalist, got the germ of the plot from a friend who underwent a voluntary 30 day quarantine after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. In her novel, it’s older daughter Olivia who forces her family into a week’s quarantine over Christmas when she returns from treating the fictional Haag virus. Her sister Phoebe resents the parties she’s missing with posh new fiance George; Emma is thrilled to have everyone back at the estate she’s inherited despite her hidden health problem and father Andrew’s love child is about to make himself known. A soapy holiday drama, the story nevertheless reminds us of our own family dynamics and was a quick read for the busy end of the year.

Hornak’s characterizations are pretty thin but her dialog and descriptions spot-on. She describes the family estate so well that it becomes a (cold, cluttered) character itself and it’s easy to imagine a movie adaptation. While the family members were one-dimensional, they all seemed to have grown at the tidy conclusion. Giving each character his or her own chapter kept any one’s grievances from becoming overbearing. The various subplots and coincidences, like the “gay intrigue” were a bit much, but generally we all liked this big-hearted family story.

More Information:
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About the book

Read Alikes:
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
“The Dead” by James Joyce
Get Out

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Tiny Homes & Small Spaces

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Trending topics like minimalism and going green are inspiring people to learn how to live large with less. If you’re thinking of downsizing your home, or if you already have and need some tips for living with less space, these books are filled with great examples and are available at your local library:

Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces by Country Living – A coast-to-coast showcase of sustainable dwellings which maximize function and style, filled with full-color photos, hundreds of decorating tips, smart finds and storage solutions.

Think Small: Make the Most of Every Square Foot by House Beautiful – Shares strategies for decorating small spaces, showcasing rooms that have been adorned with repeat patterns and textures, multipurpose furniture, fake views, or bold colors.

Micro Living by Derek Diedricksen – Showcases 40 homes that are 400 square feet or less that are equipped for full-time living and presents real-life stories of residents who share the challenges and pleasures of day-to-day living.

Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Materials by Ryan Mitchell – Features profiles on tiny house owners with photographs and floor plans of the homes, ideas on where to find materials, and what to look for and avoid when selecting reclaimed materials.

Small Space Decorating by Better Homes & Gardens – Provides tips and tricks for transforming small, dull, confining, or cramped spaces into stylish and cozy living spaces without sacrificing organization or comfort.

Tiny House Living by Ryan Mitchell – Explores the philosophies behind the tiny house lifestyle, and provides guidance for the transition to a smaller space, including practical strategies for paring down possessions and design tricks to maximize function in available space.

Small Homes: The Right Size by Lloyd Kahn – 75 builders share their knowledge of building and designing artistic, practical, and/or economical homes for people thinking of building or modifying their own house.

Library Resource Highlight: Book Club Kits


Are you in a book club but have trouble getting enough copies of books for everyone in your group? You’re in luck, because JMRL circulates book club kits! Each kit contains a tote bag filled with 10 copies of a book, discussion questions about the book, and background information, such as author biographies and book reviews. The kit can be checked out for six weeks at a time. There are both fiction and nonfiction titles available, and a few young adult books too.

We’ve just added a few new titles, including The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Find the rest of the titles here.

If you have any questions about the book club kits, please contact the Central Library’s reference desk at 434.979.7151 x4 or email them here. And JMRL is always happy to recommend a title for your next meeting- just fill out this form for a personalized recommendation.