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Talking Books Talk

Talking Books Talk provides news and updates about the Kansas Talking Books Service (KTBS). Talking Books staff will highlight relevant announcements from KTBS and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Questions: KTB@ks.gov or 800-362-0699

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May 24

YA Reads: Step into the Past

Posted on May 24, 2022 at 2:12 PM by Michael Lang

Summer is associated with sun, warm temperatures, water, sand, and page turning reads. We’ve probably all heard the phrase “beach reads,” most commonly thought of as romantic comedies, light, easy reads, or fast-paced thrillers, but in general, quick, compelling reads. They provide escapes from the everyday, keeping your interest until you reach the last word.

This summer, try changing it up and visit the past. Historical fiction gives us unique glimpses of life from points of view not found in history books while bringing to life historical events. Some are light reads while others show the emotions and difficulties people experienced in that specific era.

We have selected several historical fiction books for you to enjoy, including one of my favorites, the always amazing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I must betray you book cover. Person walking toward castle holding a torn flaff under a dark sky.

DB 106794 I must betray you by Ruta Sepetys

1989. In a country governed by isolation, fear, and a tyrannical dictator, the secret police blackmails seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu to become an informer. He decides to use his position to outwit his handler, undermine the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2022.

Book Thief book cover. Finger getting ready to push over line of dominoes.

DB 62431 The book thief by Markus Zusak

Death narrates the tale of nine-year-old Liesel from 1939 to 1943 in Nazi Germany. Liesel copes with a foster family, air raids, her friend Rudy, and a hidden Jew, sustained by the books she steals. Some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2006.

Illustration of a Korean building stained with blood and a Korean girl's face superimposed beside

DB 106804 The red palace by June Hur

Korea, 1758. While investigating a series of grisly murders, eighteen-year-old palace nurse Hyeon navigates royal and political intrigue and becomes entangled with a young police inspector. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2022.

Illustration of city street with two people holding hands near street lamp.

DB 104015 Last night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

1954. McCarthyism and the Red Scare are genuine threats to Lily's family; her father is already at risk of deportation despite his valid citizenship. Lily, who is Chinese American, could lose everything just for dating anyone white--let alone another girl--but she could lose herself if she isn't true to her feelings. Includes supplemental material. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2021.

Awakening of Malcolm X book cover. Malcolm X with gold and gray sunburst behind.

DB 102613 The awakening of Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz

While in Charlestown Prison in the 1940s, Malcolm Little reads all the books in the library, befriends fellow prisoners, joins the debate team and the Nation of Islam, and emerges as Malcolm X. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2021.

An acrobat balances one-handed on a chair in spotlight while planes drop bombs behind.

DB 101598 Someday we will fly by Rachel DeWoskin

1940s. After her mother mysteriously disappears, fifteen-year-old Lillia flees Warsaw with her father and baby sister. They struggle to make a new life in Shanghai, a place known to provide refuge to Jews without visas. Some violence. Commercial audiobook. Sydney Taylor Book Award. For senior high and older readers. 2019.

Painted images of three people on building leaning on, sitting on, and standing next to real luggage

DB 101256 We are not free by Traci Chee

Three months after the attack at Pearl Harbor, fourteen-year-old Minoru Ito and her Japanese-American community live in a new nightmarish world. And now things are about to get worse as they are forced into internment camps. Violence and strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2020.

Illustration of city street with three people walking, one with his arm around the gircl next to him

DB 96104 Like a love story by Abdi Nazemian

New York City, 1989. Three teens discover their sexuality, romance, AIDS activism, and the revolutionary act of living life to the fullest in the face of impossible odds. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2019.

Illustration of boy and girl riding moped towards flames and smoke.

DB 94195 The weight of our sky by Alkaf Hanna

Amidst the Chinese-Malay conflict in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, sixteen-year-old Melati must overcome prejudice, violence, and her own obsessive-compulsive disorder to find her way back to her mother. Violence. For senior high and older readers. 2019.

Cloth tent with lights connected under a dark night sky.

DB 88952 Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Selected to be a colonist on Mars in 2065, loner Adri heads to Kansas to stay with her cousin until her training is complete. Adri soon discovers a trove of letters and finds a human connection she had been missing. Some violence. For senior high and older readers. 2017.

Out of the Easy cook cover. Birl with head on cloth covered table looking through a bird cage.

DB 76108 Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

1950. Josie, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a French Quarter prostitute, wants to escape New Orleans for prestigious Smith College. But a mysterious death in the Quarter draws Josie back into the underworld. Some violence, some strong language, and some descriptions of sex. For senior high and older readers. 2013.