Library closed on Juneteenth

All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed Wednesday, June 19 in commemoration of Juneteenth. We will reopen at the regular time on Thursday, June 20.

Where to start with Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is one of our most accomplished storytellers. With more than 60 novels and 40 short story collections it can be difficult to know where to begin reading her works. Oates will be here at Central Library on Thursday, May 30 as a part of the AViD series. If you are looking to read one of her books before the event here are seven recommendations of where you could start with her extensive backlist.

Book cover for Blonde

If you want to get inside the mind of one of the most famous people ever check out: Blonde.

In this award winning book that was called one of the Great American Novels of the last 100 years (The Atlantic), Joyce Carol Oates takes you inside the mind of Norma Jeane Baker—the child, the woman, the fated celebrity and idolized blonde the world came to know as Marilyn Monroe. This book is a sweeping unputdownable epic that pays tribute to the elusive magic and devastation behind the creation of the great twentieth-century American star. After you finish, watch the 2020 Netflix adaptation of the same name.

Hazards of Time Travel

If you enjoy dystopian science fiction that is more literary check out: Hazards of Time Travel

Time travel – and its hazards – are made literal in this astonishing new novel in which a recklessly idealistic girl dares to test the perimeters of her tightly controlled (future) world and is punished by being sent back in time to a region of North America – “Wainscotia, Wisconsin” – that existed eighty years before. Cast adrift in time in this idyllic Midwestern town she is set upon a course of “rehabilitation” – but cannot resist falling in love with a fellow exile and questioning the constrains of the Wainscotia world with results that are both devastating and liberating.

Book cover for Lovely, dark deep

If you enjoy eerie short stories check out: Lovely, Dark Deep 

This collection of Short Stories was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Through thirteen unsettling stories Oates explores the eerie darkness that lurks within us all. 

In "Mastiff," a woman and a man are joined in an erotic bond forged out of terror and gratitude. "Sex with Camel" explores how a sixteen-year-old boy realizes the depth of his love for his grandmother—and how vulnerable those feelings make him. Fearful that that her husband is "disappearing" from their life, a woman becomes obsessed with keeping him in her sight in "The Disappearing." "A Book of Martyrs" reveals how the end of a pregnancy brings with it the end of a relationship. And in the title story, the elderly Robert Frost is visited by an interviewer, an unsettling young woman, who seems to know a good deal more about his life than she should.

Book Cover The Lost Landscape A Writer's Coming of Age

If you want to learn more about Joyce Carol Oates and her life check out: The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age

The Lost Landscape is Joyce Carol Oates' vivid chronicle of her hardscrabble childhood in rural western New York State. From memories of her relatives, to those of a charming bond with a special red hen on her family farm; from her first friendships to her earliest experiences with death, The Lost Landscape is a powerful evocation of the romance of childhood, and its indelible influence on the woman and the writer she would become.

We were the Mulvaney's book cover

If you enjoy novels about complex family dynamics and how families come through the aftermath of tragedy check out the Oprah Book Club pickup We Were The Mulvaney's

The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet. But something happens on Valentine's Day, 1976--an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home--that rends the fabric of their family life...with tragic consequences. Years later, the youngest son attempts to piece together the fragments of the Mulvaneys' former glory, seeking to uncover and understand the secret violation that brought about the family's tragic downfall.

The Book Covers of the four books in the Wonderland Quartet

If you enjoy books that explore class check out: the Wonderland Quartet.

These four critically acclaimed books explore social class in America and the inner lives of young Americans. Spanning from the Great Depression to the turbulent Vietnam War era. A Garden of Earthly Delights (Book one), Expensive People (Book two), and Wonderland (Book four) were all finalists for the National Book Award. Book three, them, was the winner of the National Book Award in 1970.

Book cover Butcher by Joyce Carol Oates

If you want to read her latest novel pick up Butcher

From one of our most accomplished storytellers, an extraordinary and arresting novel about a women’s asylum in the 19th century, and a terrifying doctor who wants to change the world. In this harrowing story based on authentic historical documents, we follow the career of Dr. Silas Weir, “The Father of Gyno-Psychiatry,” as he ascends from professional anonymity to national renown.

Published on May 16, 2024
Last Modified June 19, 2024