January 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!

 

 'Tis the season for reading your favorite Holiday book! We asked staff to share their favorite Holiday book.

 

The tell-tale brain

 

The tell-tale brain: a neuroscientists's quest for what make us human

By V. S. Ramachandran

This book takes a creative, speculative look at recent findings in neuroscience. V.S. Ramachandran offers a light-hearted and sometimes mischievously humorous account of his own interpretation of why different parts of the brain may be linked to bizarre human conditions--from synesthesia to denial. He builds a case for the human ability to mirror and reflect the world outside within our own brains as the chief reason as to why humans distinguish themselves from other animals.
If you like popular science, this book is for you.


 

Longbourn

  

Longbourn

By Jo Baker

The servants of the Bennett household are barely mentioned in Pride and Prejudice, but in this novel they are front and center. The servants have compelling dramas of their own, but are also hypersensitive to the Bennetts' needs and affairs while the Bennetts are oblivious to how their whims affect the lives of the servants.


Name of the wind

   

The name of the wind

By Patrick Rothfuss

The tale of Kvothe, from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages, you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But this book is so much more, for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.


Year of Yes

  

Year of Yes

 By Shonda Rhimes

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No. And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear. Then Shonda's sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed, and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life -- and how we can all change our lives with one little word: Yes.


The remains of the day

  

The remains of the day

By Kazuo Ishiguro

The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second World War, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him -- oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, pitch-perfect novel -- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence.

Outliers

  

Outliers: the story of success

By Malcolm Gladwell

The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame.

Unfortunate importance of beauty

 

 

The unfortunate importance of beauty: a novel

By Amanda Filipacchi

"Meet the Knights of Creation, a group of artistic friends struggling with society's standards of beauty. Barb, a stunningly beautiful costume designer, chooses to don a fat suit in hopes that it will help her meet the man of her dreams--a man who can see beyond her looks. Lily, Barb's brilliantly talented, unfortunate-looking musician friend, goes to fantastic lengths to attract the shallow man she loves. Penelope, neither beautiful nor talented, makes her living by selling hideous clay pots after convincing customers they've broken them. To complicate matters, the friends discover they may have a murderer in their midst"--

Power of Now

   

 

The power of now: a guide to spiritual enlightenment

By Eckhart Tolle

To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the beginning of the first chapter we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where one breathes a lighter air, the air of the spiritual. Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle offers simple language and a question and answer format to guide us. The words themselves are the signposts. The book is a guide to spiritual awakening from a man who has emerged as one of this generation's clearest, most inspiring teachers. Eckhart Tolle is not aligned with any particular religion but does what all the great masters have done: shows that the way, the truth, and the light already exist within each of us.

Good luck of right now

  

The good luck of right now

By Matthew Quick

When his mother dies, 38-year-old Bartholomew Neil, who doesn't know how to be on his own, discovers a letter in his mother's underwear drawer that causes him to write a series of highly intimate letters to actor Richard Gere, while embarking on a quest to find out where he belongs. 

Tiny beautiful thing

   

Tiny beautiful things: advice on love and life from Dear Sugar

By Cheryl Strayed

Life can be hard, life can be great. For years, the anonymous author of Dear Sugar was the one to turn to for advice. Now, the best of Cheryl Strayed's online columns are collected in one place for you to enjoy-- and learn from.