April Staff Picks

Staff-recommended reading from the Alexandria Library Catalog. Check back each month for a new list. Need some recommended titles? Tell us five titles you have enjoyed and we'll send you a list of five more that we think you will like. Also check out our new Goodreads Group for reviews, online bookclubs, and more!

 Alexandria Library Volunteer Edition

To celebrate volunteer appreciation month we asked our library volunteers to tell us some of their favorite titles. We are extremely grateful for all of the hard work of our volunteers within the Alexandria Library system. If you are interesed in learning more about volunteering at Alexandria Library, visit our volunteer page

Wake up happy : the dream big, win big guide to transforming your life



Wake up happy : the dream big, win big guide to transforming your life

By Michael Strahan

This book is very inspirational. Through his personal stories, it is a book to motivate you to go in pursuit of your dreams and how you can achieve that goal. Never give up on your journey to strive big.

Recommended by Carol B.

The soul's code : in search of character and calling



The soul's code : in search of character and calling

By James Hillman

Twentieth century psychology tends to look to the past to explain human behavior. Hillman takes the classic idea of fate and challenges the reader to look to the future to explain personal history. He visualizes a world of naturally unique individuals free of homogenizing therapies.

Recommended by Margaret W.

Down among the dead men




Down among the dead men

By Peter Lovesey

Peter Lovesy's Peter Diamond series is a must for fans of British police procedurals. The series, set in Bath, follows the professional and personal ups and downs of the gruff maverick detective from the 90s to the current day. The 15th and latest book in the series, Down Among the Dead Men, exposes an unexpected empathic side to Diamond's personality, as he reluctantly works side-by-side with his superior officer to investigate a crime in another jurisdiction.

Recommended by Laura K.

The garden of evening mists : a novel




The Garden of Evening Mists : a novel

By Tan Twan Eng

How do you honor the memory of the sister you lost in the war? How would you spend the last months of your life before you lose your memory and descend into dementia? If you are Yun Ling you travel to the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia and become the apprentice to the former gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Yun Ling finds redemption and release by learning how to construct an authentic Japanese garden. Tan Twan Eng's writing is as beautifully sumptuous as the as the arts detailed in his novel set Asia in the first half of 20th century.

Recommended by Jill S.

The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear



The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear : a novel

By Walter Moers

This book is absolutely delightful. It gives a first-person account of the adventures of Bluebear (who is, in fact, a blue bear) as he travels with minipirates, lives inside a tornado, and helps a pterodactyl who saves people at the last minute, among other things. It’s translated from German, but not so you’d notice — even the puns are spot-on, making for a very funny book.

Recommended by Monica S.

A room of one's own



A room of one's own

By Virginia Woolf

Throughout history, far more men than women have become successful in literature and the arts. Do men have something that women don’t? Yes – and it has nothing to do with anatomy. Virginia Woolf explores this question with patience and a touch of dry humor in her 1929 work "A Room of One’s Own." This book speaks us today just as it did nearly 100 years ago.

Recommended by Burke Volunteer

The sparrow




The sparrow

By Mary Doria Russell

Imagine what kind of action humanity will take when we intercept the first sign of life on another planet. Russell weaves a beautiful story where, while the UN chases its tail, the Catholic Church has the kind of money and nimble closed-door decision-making processes to quickly launch an interstellar mission to seek out that life. Led by an unforgettable protagonist, a Jesuit priest and linguist, a team of brilliant misfits makes an incredible journey into language, culture, religious questioning, and scientific learning. The Sparrow is the kind of thrilling and accessible sci-fi that your book club will be talking about for years!

Recommended by Sandy M.

Remembrance of things past



The Search for Time Past (also know as Remembrance of Things Past)

By Marcel Proust

My favorite novel is Marcel Proust's The Search for Time Past, which offers the most complex picture we have of human psychology, I think. Like another of my favorite books, Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of dreams, Proust also vastly expands our understanding of the unconscious. For good measure, it's LOL funny in many spots.

Recommended by Beth V.


The kite rider




The Kite Rider

By Geraldine McCaughrean

In thirteenth-century China, after trying to save his widowed mother from a horrendous second marriage, twelve-year-old Haoyu has life-changing adventures when he takes to the sky as a circus kite rider and ends up meeting the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan. This annotation, which I wrote as a cataloger at the Library of Congress, appears in the book and in the Alexandria library's catalog. I used this book a number of times when booktalking in the schools and found it to be quite popular.

Recommended by Lorna K.

The boys in the boat : nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics



The boys in the boat

By Daniel Brown

Three stories in one book: a terrific description of growing up rural poor during the Depression; the story of a group of young men overcoming great obstacles to win an Olympic gold medal; and a glimpse into the process Leni Riefenstahl used to glorify Germany during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Recommended by Duncan Volunteer




The Rosie effect

The Rosie Effect

By Graeme Simsion

This light-hearted and funny book tells the tale of Don, an overly analytical and socially inept man, who develops and implements a test he administers to find his soulmate. 

Recommended by Tracey R.