Staff Picks

by Skeslien Charles, Janet

This book begins with an immediate juxtaposition of two young female characters growing up in different time periods under very different circumstances. Odile’s story begins in Paris as World War II looms on the horizon. She is in her early twenties and an eager lover of books who has just started her dream job in the American Library in Paris. She seems to have it all—looks, books, a boyfriend, and a good family. Lily’s story, on the other hand, begins with the death of her mother just before she is about to enter her formative high school years. With this loss and changes to her family structure, Lily finds solace and inspiration in her curious and slightly reclusive French neighbor. As you may have guessed, both stories interweave together creating a poignant exploration of the impact of choices and the power of the relationships that shape us as we grow all while sprinkling in some love and appreciation for language, librarians, and the books that inspire us.

by Bechdel, Alison

A great and heartbreaking memoir in comic book form. It tells the story of Alison Bechdel (whose name you might know because the Bechdel Test for cinema originated in an newpaper comic she wrote) and her youth growing up in a funeral home (the "fun home" of the title), her sometimes difficult relationship with her father, discovering her sexuality and coming out, the consequent revelation that her father was a closeted gay man, and the unresolved aftermath of his subsequent death. That might sound heavy, and it is at times, but it's also profoundly funny and humane and even universal somehow. It's also been adapted by Tesori and Kron into one of the best musicals in the last few years.

by Streets, Annabel

“Walking is not—and has never been—boring,” writes novelist Streets in this inviting exercise guide to a year’s worth of walking. The book describes walking divided into a weekly program, with each week dedicated to a certain type of walking. This would definitely be a motivational book to read to start the new year with a goal of wellness! Examples included: “a stroll in winter”, with advantages of walking in the cold including increased cognition and reduced stress. The benefits of slow walks (shown to lower cholesterol and help regulate insulin levels), early morning treks (exposure to sunlight helps start the day off right), and post-meal strolls (which help with digestion) were also described. The information is refreshing as are the psychological and physical benefits of some movement in the “outside." We're urged to appreciate the world around us, with the added plus that there's no gym fee required!

by Snyder, Sabrina

I love a good cookbook, especially one loaded with appetizing color photographs of the prepared recipes. What makes me love this cookbook even more is that the recipes are limited to either 3, 5, or 7 ingredients. The premise being that with a well-stocked pantry and (maybe) one fresh ingredient from the local butcher or farmer’s market, delicious meals can be easily made at home. I’ve tried several recipes from this book and all were very successful. My favorites are the Easy-Breezy Pot Roast and the Mini Fruit Pies. Add a green salad to those two and you’ve got Dinner then Dessert!

by Bourdain, Anthony

"A guide to some of the world's most fascinating places, as seen and experienced by writer, television host, and relentlessly curious traveler Anthony Bourdain" (Publisher's Summary)

This title is only available via Interlibrary Loan

by Shapiro, Dani

Dani Shapiro’s memoir Inheritance chronicles the author’s personal experience with family secrets. When a spit DNA test reveals that Dani herself is the family secret, Shapiro begins a quest to make sense of and unravel just who she is in light of this discovery. Shapiro pairs moving and honest prose with journalistic inquiry into her family and the questions that surround fertility, sperm donors, medical history, and privacy.

If you enjoy this book and are a fan of podcasts, be sure to listen to Shapiro’s Family Secrets podcast, a project that was spawned from the response to the book and explores family secrets of all varieties.

by Wohlleben, Peter

A fabulous book about TREES! And forests! And how it all works in amazing processes in those forests every day! Rich and beautiful photography that simply takes you to that place in the woods. Wonderfully informative insights from the Tree Whisperer, himself! It'll make a tree hugger out of you... I promise.

by Hoover, Colleen

Whose truth is a lie? Are you Team Manuscript or Team Letter? Hoover expertly leads us on a winding trail of lies and manipulation. There's some spicy parts and some violence so proceed with caution if those subjects bother you... it's a wild ride until the end!

by St. James, Simone

Recipe for a great scary read-

Combine: one creepy hotel, two parallel timelines, a small-town setting, some amateur sleuthing, a decades old cold case, a little paranormal suspense and a shivery ghost story; then stir until the spirits come floating out!

Simone St. James had me hooked with this book! A great read for fans of spooky without a lot of gore... it's an old-fashioned kind of scared! BOO!

by Ritchie, Fiona

This is a wonderful book that beautifully depicts intertwined musical traditions from radio host Ritchie. It gives a detailed look at migration patterns that promoted close connections between Appalachian and Scots-Irish ballad traditions. The book lends itself to a conversation with the authors. The illustrations and photographs make this historically complex topic easy for anyone to enjoy. Don’t be discouraged by the textbook-like layout, as it very friendly, informative and entertaining. It also includes a CD of recordings by musicians including Dolly Parton and Anais Mitchell and many more musicians with insightful approaches. Non-musicians will have no trouble appreciating this book and discerning the information. It was wonderful to both read and hear about my roots in music and my family’s Scot-Irish heritage that was brought to life.

by Bowen, Rhys

It's 1938 when art teacher Juliet Browning arrives in romantic Venice. For her students, it's a wealth of history, art, and beauty. For Juliet, it's poignant memories and a chance to reconnect with Leonardo Da Rossi, the man she loves whose future is already determined by his noble family. However star-crossed, nothing can come between them. Until the threat of war closes in on Venice and they're forced to fight, survive, and protect a secret that will bind them forever. Key by key, Lettie's life of impossible love, loss, and courage unfolds. It's one that Caroline can now make right again as her own journey of self-discovery begins. (Publisher's Summary)

by Haig, Matt

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived, to see how things would be if you had made other choices. Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets? Up until now Nora Seed's life has been full of misery. When she finds herself in the Midnight Library, she can now undo every decision she regrets. But things aren't always what she imagined they'd be. (Publisher's Summary)

by Gabaldon, Diana

A science fiction, historical, romance set in the Scottish Highlands with a strong female lead? Yes, please.

by Serle, Rebecca

This book tackles the age-old question "Where do you see yourself in five years?" with a twist readers may not expect. This is a love and a life story, and true to both love and life, the characters' journeys are anything but straightforward. In Five Years is a fairly quick read, but you will be thinking about the book after you close its cover.

by Clarke, Susanna

Clarke's long-awaited follow-up to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is narrated by a deeply peculiar character who lives in an infinitely large mansion filled with strange sculptures and which seems to be slowly sinking into the sea. The world he describes is at first inscrutable but compelling, and over the course of this brief and beautiful novella becomes increasingly comprehensible (and teasingly intertextual) but stays just as dangerous and fascinating.