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Read in totality

Books to enjoy this eclipse season

Unsure what to do with your time before the sky goes dark on April 8? Then commit to reading a book in its totality by an author in the path of totality before the totality! Check it out at your local library and see what space-themed programming they’ve got in store for Rochester’s moment in—er, out—of the sun.

Fair Lady 

By Frances Tepper 

Cosmographia, 2022, paperback, 


Ah, the county fair. It typically drums up images of farm animals, Ferris wheels, and fruit pies. But what about school bus demolition derbies, a sweat-inducing cow-pig mascot costume, and a Marilyn Manson concert? The Monroe County Fair’s executive director tells stories about what worked, what failed, and what kept her going for two decades. 

Tepper’s honest and hilarious event recaps, plus her own self-deprecating humor, give the reader an idea of how she stayed in such a challenging role for so long. It also offers a glimpse at the amount of work it takes to run an event of this magnitude. Pick up a copy for anyone familiar with the fair who is looking for a laugh. 

Tepper is a video poker fanatic who has devoured the Outlander book series three times. She married her high school sweetheart and is the mother of three and grandmother of six. After the Enchantment is Tepper’s latest book, and she can sniff out fried dough a mile away. Find out what else this fair lady is up at

Mama Said 

By Kristen Gentry 

West Virginia University Press, 2023, paperback, 


The women of a 1990s Kentucky family reckon with their mothers’ addictions during the holidays. They discuss the pros and cons of teenage pregnancy, and they pursue and reconsider romantic relationships, sometimes while trying to get a bat out of the house. Overall, they want to be good daughters. 

The connected short stories feel like a novel when read together, showing how some addictions started and where the women’s futures may go. The families are realistically strained as they balance love and resentment. This lovely collection and its characters are subtle and emotional, making every page feel real. 

Gentry grew up in Kentucky, where she read voraciously and learned the importance of seeing herself in books. After grad school, she moved to Rochester and taught at SUNY Geneseo, then recently returned to her home state. Gentry loves TV’s hilarious Atlanta, thrifting for vintage Levi’s, dancing the electric slide, and contemplating a second career as a personal stylist. Learn more about her vibe at

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Vulnerability Is My Superpower: An Underpants and Overbites Collection 

By Jackie E. Davis 

Andrews McNeal, 2021, paperback, 


Should Jackie leave her job as a coffee barista to try life as an artist? And why are old people kind of creepy when you’re a kid? Jackie and other potato-shaped characters star in this compilation of comic strips where she navigates ball pits and friendships with humor, love, and the occasional visible bum crack. 

The personal situations Davis shares in her book show off her genuine self to others. The collection is fun, colorful, and funny, giving readers the confidence to embrace their own unique selves. They may even want to try their own hand at drawing, too! 

Davis, a lifelong doodler, has taught art and drawing classes throughout the Rochester area, where she lives with her adorable husband and baby. Her home also includes happy plants, squishy stuffies, and delicious soups. She can be found playing outside, visiting her library, or as a lovable cartoon here

Where the Cotton Grows: A Missionary Calling Leads a Baptist Family on a Fateful Journey to China Leaving a Lasting Legacy 

By Paul Ashton Vick 

Paul Ashton Vick, 2021, paperback, 


In 1947, a small plane crashed in China while carrying one-year-old Paul, his brother, and their parents. Paul, the sole survivor, was then raised in Rochester by his adoring grandparents and bolstered by his loving extended family. After having children of his own, Paul confronted the past head-on during a trip to China, where he learned about the people and place that saved his life. 

This memoir contains captioned photographs, stories from people who knew Vick’s parents, and testimonies from those who witnessed the crash and its aftermath. The combination gives a complete picture of who the family was. It is an incredible tale that shows how truth can be crazier than fiction. 

Vick, an ordained American Baptist Minister and retired lawyer, kicks off his days with spinning workouts, Chinese lessons, and piano practice. His work and desire to travel have taken him to Africa, Europe, and Asia. He is grateful for every moment he has to kayak, hike, and vacation in the Adirondacks with his wife, children, and grandchildren. Visit for an emotional video and more.

Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency 

By Chen Chen 

BOA Editions, 2022, paperback, 


Phone calls are made and phone calls are ended. Words are completed and sentences are fragmented. Through this style, the writer tells his parents he is gay and introduces his mother to his boyfriend. He navigates college and Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic. He shares this all, wanting to make connections. 

The poems are presented in a variety of ways. Some are in typical flush-left format, while others dance across the pages. There are varied line breaks, italics, and dual languages, making the poems visually interesting as well as thought-provoking, raw, and beautiful. It is full of phrases as clever as the title around the connected theme of Chen’s identity. Chen is the author of award-winning short stories and essays, but poetry fills his resumé. He teaches at New England College and Stonecoast and edits Underblong and the lickety~split, an X/Twitter account that publishes 280-character poems. Chen, a Tegan and Sara fan, enjoys exploring Rochester with his partner and their pug. See pics on IG: @chenchenwrites.

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