Book Buzz Episode 29 – The Imposters & The Sum of Us

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Air date: Dec. 24, 2023

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The Imposters

The Sum of Us

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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz.

Today's reading recommendations include a psychological tale that explores reality and a non-fiction title for young people that explores racism.

First, we’re going to hear from acquisitions assistant Kerry, for a tale of fiction about fiction. Go ahead, Kerry.


The Imposters by Tom Rachman, opens with Dora Frenhofer, an aging novelist beginning her newest novel knowing it will be her last. As she comes to terms with the inevitable decline precipitated by dementia, her storytelling mind still conjures scenarios using the only materials it has — in fragments — from her past and present everyday life.

From the very first pages, I found the writing of this book to be completely absorbing and even beguiling. Each chapter is a powerful short story in itself; Dora spins tales that draw you in entirely. I was fascinated by the contradictions and connections between imagination and reality, why we tell stories and why we need stories to tell.

Author Tom Rachman once described in an interview how the beauty and value of fiction reside in its invitation to suspend our own personal biases in order to understand the lives and minds of others. Rachman writes about the extent to which fiction can sometimes be more powerful and persuasive than reality — how it can teach us more about ourselves, and the world, if we are ready for it — and how our personal fictions can guide us, or sometimes lead us dangerously astray.

This book is an exciting pick for fans of Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, Trust by Hernan Diaz, and The Librarianist by Patrick DeWitt.


Thanks, Kerry! When authors write about characters who are authors, you know there’s some insider knowledge.

Next, let’s hear from Kim, library associate at the Snohomish Library, for a book on a sensitive topic, adapted for tweens and teens, Take it away, Kim.


The Sum of Us: How Racism Hurts Everyone, Adapted for Young Readers by Heather McGhee, is the 2023 non-fiction teen version of her New York Times best-selling adult non-fiction book of the same name.

This hopeful examination of how the racial divide in the U.S. must be bridged to create prosperity for all is for anyone looking for solutions to do just that, while also understanding the history of how race in this country has been used to harm the public good, not only for BIPOC communities, but for everyone.

McGhee contrasts the racialized idea that resource sharing is a zero-sum paradigm, where one group’s success means cost to another, against the concept of the solidarity dividend, where working across racial lines can lift everyone. In asking why Americans do not have access to the nice things many Europeans enjoy, such as universal healthcare, free public childcare and free universities, McGhee leads us to a deeper understanding of the way racism has robbed us all from having a better life.

Along with adapting her hopeful ideas for a younger audience, McGhee also created a podcast featuring successful examples of the solidarity dividend in the U.S today. Both are inspirational!


Thanks, Kim! It's interesting how podcasts these days can be a supplement to non-fiction books.

Our recommendations this week are: The Imposters by Tom Rachman and The Sum of Us: How Racism Hurts Everyone, Adapted for Young Readers by Heather McGhee.

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations — interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER.

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