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Adult Summer Reading

adult summer reading challenge

This summer’s theme: Build A Better World

Runs now until August 31

Log Your Books & Earn Prizes!*

Thanks to the Friends of the Bethel Public Library for generously providing coupons!!!

Join our summer reading challenge! Remember: when you read widely, read wisely, and read often, you’re stretching your mind and helping to build a better world.

Earn prizes for reading books (while supplies last). Hurry in and visit your friendly neighborhood reference desk to learn more and get your summer reading challenge log, with a few book review forms!

Or you may download and your log and print review forms online.
You must present your completed log in person at the Reference Desk to claim your prize.

Reading Log

Review Form

When you finish a book, log it and share your thoughts by submitting a brief review in person at the Reference Desk! We’re posting participants’ reviews below so you can get ideas for your next read, and we may publish your review in our Newsletter’s Reader to Reader column. (Note: By submitting your book review, you permit the Library to publish your review, with attribution, online and/or in our newsletter. Content may be edited due to space constraints.)

By 7:45 PM, August 31st, bring your completed reading log to the Reference Desk, in order to claim your prize!*
In fairness to all participants, we cannot accept prize claims after August 31st. Please plan accordingly.

  • Read 3 books and earn:
    Coupon for $3 off in the Friends’ Book Cellar
  • Read 5 books and earn:
    Coupon for $5 off in the Friends’ Book Cellar
  • Read 10+ books and earn:
    Coupon for $10 off in the Friends’ Book Cellar
    PLUS… a FREE library tote bag!

All prizes available while supplies last

Participant Book Reviews

Title of Book: Essays After Eighty
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Donald Hall
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Collection of Essays
Brief Review: I decided I’d read a book of essays, but first I had to find out where they were in the library! I looked through the selection and picked this one because I liked the title and it wasn’t too long. Anyway, I loved the book! It was funny! It told me much about his life, his career, his ancestors, his trips abroad right after World War II, etc. I feel like I read his autobiography as well as learning a bit about history – two things I like to read. Will now look for other essay books by him. He’s apparently a famous poet, but I’m not ready for that yet!
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Marianne K.

Title of Book: Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Mark Twain
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: Historical Fiction Set Prior to 1900
Brief Review: Wondering if I’d been asleep at the literary helm, I asked some avid readers if they knew that Mark Twain had written a novel about Joan of Arc. None had. so how did I discover this book? I came across a passing reference to it in another book. It works that way, sometimes. In Personal Recollections, Twain’s narrator is Joan’s page and secretary, Sir Louis de Conte. Writing as an old man, de Conte reminisces about Joan’s humble origins, her call from God to serve France, hair-raising battle experiences, mock trial, and ultimate execution. Twain clearly loved his subject. He also loved this book—in fact, he said it was the best of all his books. That’s up to the reader. for me, the reward for reading it was two-fold: learning about this passion of Mark Twain, and gaining a more informed appreciation of the Maid of Orleans. So now you know about this book…read it if you seek inspiring historical fiction by a master story-teller.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★ and 1/2
Reviewed by: Susan A.

Title of Book: The Agency series: A Spy in the House
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Y. S. Lee
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: First Book in a Series by a Person of Color
Brief Review: Alone in England in 1853, Mary Quinn is 12 years old and arrested for stealing. As a consequence for stealing, Mary faces disposal. Luckily, she is not disposed of, but rather she is rescued by the Academy for Girls. In the Academy she is educated and offered employment. She takes a job as a companion for a spoiled rich young adult who does not want a companion. Mary’s life becomes very interesting and complicated. She is drawn into a deceitful life with the rich, but she turns everything around for the better in the end.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★★
Reviewed by: Laura B.

Title of Book: Short Stories and Essays: The Musings of a Man Held Captive by His Imagination
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Gerard Brooker
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Collection of Essays
Brief Review: What an imagination! Some stories and essays I could relate to, while others were just fun to read. My favorites were, “The Elephant Who Committed Suicide,” “Picnic in a Blizzard,” and “The Day $20 Became $40.” This book was easy to read, and has something for everyone.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★★
Reviewed by: Laura B.

Title of Book: Dog Gone, Back Soon
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Nicholas Trout
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Book that Makes You Smile
Brief Review: great book if you are interested in being a veterinarian. A young man returns home to take over the family vet practice and he is faced with change, both good and bad. What kind of care do you want for your pet? Do you want a compassionate vet, or a more modern formal vet? This is a small town where two vet practices may not survive. So read on, and enjoy. See who wins the love of their pets and the care for their pets.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★★
Reviewed by: Laura B.

Title of Book: The Happiness Project
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Gretchen Rubin
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Book that Makes You Smile
Brief Review: A tutorial to talk you through various areas of your life so that you can be … HAPPIER! 🙂 Provides a brief outline and at the end, the author gives you her website, which provides additional resources.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Kristin R.

Title of Book: The Dogs Who Found Me
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Ken Foster
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: Read a Book Out Loud to Someone Else
Brief Review: Autobiography of a man encountering homeless dogs, and what he will do with each day. All over the place. Even a section in the book where, out of nowhere, he has to get a pacemaker! Not for me.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★☆☆☆☆
Reviewed by: Kristin R.

Title of Book: The Book of Speculation
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Erika Swyler
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Book About a Culture You’re Unfamiliar With
Brief Review: Circus life… in the “olden days,” linked to a deep, dark curse. It was a page-turner, but I did not feel a huge connection with most of the characters. Also, do not read this book when you are tired. Lots of detail and things to piece together in order for the mystery to make sense.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★☆☆
Reviewed by: Kristin R.

Title of Book: Eat, Pray, Love
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Elizabeth Gilbert
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Food Memoir
Brief Review: A good read, makes you think about your own life. What do you want out of life? What are your expectations, goals, dreams? How will you achieve them? Read Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir and learn how she revamps her life to meet her goals and have fun while doing it. You will learn about different cultures, food, and religious beliefs.
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Laura B.

Title of Book: Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: David Sedaris
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Book Over 500 Pages Long
Brief Review: For any fan of David Sedaris’s dark, offbeat sense of humor, this collection of his diary entries from 1977-2002 is perfect for dipping into or reading cover to cover. Who knew how many years he spent flailing about the northeastern US, picking fruit, refinishing furniture, and drinking too much?
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Amy B.

Title of Book: Fudge Cupcake Murder
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Joanne Fluke
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Murder Mystery
Brief Review: How do fudge cupcakes and murder go together? Did eating a cupcake kill someone? Hannah Swenson is the main character who runs a cookie bakery as well as being a sleuth in her spare time. Read Fudge Cupcake Murder to learn how murder and cupcakes are related. The recipes in this book are very good, especially the fudge icing one. Enjoy!
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★★
Reviewed by: Laura B.
Title of Book: Wild Fire
(click here to see in catalog)
Author of Book: Nelson DeMille
(click here to see in catalog)
Challenge Fulfilled: A Book Over 500 Pages Long
Brief Review: Not my usual choice for a book but very eye-opening and interesting. Wild Fire is a story about a group of professionals and their colleagues who plot revenge on people and their country, because they caused a tragedy on US soil. The creative minds come together to plot the revenge and this book makes you really think about this actual tragedy and the what ifs…
Star Rating (out of 5): ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Laura B.