Archive of Staff Picks from 2014

Staff-recommended reading from the Alexandria Library Catalog.

January 2014 May 2014 September 2014
February 2014 June 2014 October 2014
March 2014 July 2014 November 2014
April 2014 August 2014 December 2014

 

January 2014

Bully nation : why America's approach to childhood aggression is bad for everyone

 

 

 

 

Bully Nation : why America's approach to childhood aggression is bad for everyone 

By Susan Eva Porter

This level-headed analysis of our nation’s bullying epidemic finds fault in our tendency to label children as the bully and/or victim in the first place, making the self-esteem necessary for growth and change nearly impossible. Sharing stories from her 20 years’ experience in schools, author Susan Eva Porter provides a commonsense, detailed plan for how to counsel both sides of the equation and reduce aggression without resorting to the knee-jerk, zero tolerance policies of the modern anti-bullying movement.

Recommended by S. Brown

The whisperer : a novel

 

 

The Whisperer : a novel

By Donato Carrisi

"The Whisperer" is an international bestseller as dark and compelling as Steig Larsson's trilogy. The characters were fascinating and the plot was full of twists and turns to the very last page. I could not stop reading once I started.

Recommended by Virginia G.

Until I say good-bye : my year of living with joy

 

 

Until I say good-bye : my year of living with joy

By Susan Spencer-Wendel

What would you do to say goodbye to those you love most if you knew you only had a year or two to live? This book explores how Susan both coped with her diagnosis of ALS and how she went about leaving a lasting legacy for her family. This book is as much about living as it is saying goodbye and is a beautiful love to a remarkable family.

Recommended by Samantha P.

Is Your Mama a Llama?

 

 

 

Is Your Mama a Llama?

By Deborah Guarina

A little llama asks his friends whether their 'mama is a llama?' Silly rhymes and delightful illustrations by Steven Kellogg make this a winner to be enjoyed over and over. Also available as a DVD and audiobook with picture book.

Recommended by Jessica S.

Murder is Binding

 

 

 

 

 

Murder is Binding (eAudiobook on OverDrive)

By Lorna Barrett

This cozy mystery series is a guilty pleasure of mine. I love mysteries that involve books. When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased--and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries--and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book. 

Recommended by Katie D.

Liar's Poker

 

 

Liar's Poker

By Michael Lewis

The strongest memory I have of business school is Liar's Poker. Before The Blind Side and Moneyball, Michael Lewis wrote this wild account of the heyday of bond trading in the 1980s where junk bonds were born, greed was king, and a naive young man can become successful in a powerful investment bank.

Recommended by Rebecca L.

Bakuman

 

 

Bakuman

By Tsugumi Ohba

Moritaka Mashiro likes to draw. His classmate Akito Takagi wants to write manga and drags Mashiro into the world of manga publishing under the pseudonym Ashirogi. Over the course of the series (now 20 volumes) we watch the boys' roller-coaster career as they compete, face defeat, and take chances. Will they reach the top and get an anime? Will Mashiro find love with Miho Azuki, his crush from middle school? If he does, will it ruin both their careers?

Recommended by Julie D.

Dear girls above me: inspired by a true story

 

 

Dear girls above me: inspired by a true story  eAudiobook on OverDrive

By Charlie McDowell

A fun listen which had me wary in the beginning, but chuckling and rooting for surprising characters in the end. Not only has author Charlie McDowell been recently dumped he's also living in an apartment with thin walls and two noisy upstairs neighbors. This book is inspired by true events that started McDowell's popular twitter feed. 

Recommended by April D.

Ota Benga : the pygmy in the zoo

 

 

Ota Benga : the pygmy in the zoo

By Phillips Verner Bradford

Bradford takes you on the journey of Ota Benga, a Congolese man and pygmy, who was brought to the United States, caged and displayed in public spaces. This true story follows Ota from the Congo to Lynchburg, Virginia. Exploitation, isolation, cruelty, and homesickness are common-threads throughout this sensitive biography. 

Recommended by Tina M.

Survivors: The empty city

 

 

Survivors: The empty city

By Erin Hunter

After a natural disaster leads to the disappearance of most of the Earth's "longpaws", domesticated dogs of all breeds must learn to relearn their natural animal instincts in order to survive in a changed world. Very enlightning about various dog breeds and their original purposes. A little different from Hunter's cat "Warriors" and "Seekers" series about cats and bears. Some scary and intense scenes for younger children. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by L. Rudd

Back to top

February 2014

Kinfolks : falling off the family tree : the search for my Melungeon ancestors

 

 

Kinfolks: falling off the family tree: the search for my Melungeon ancestors

By Lisa Alther

In this engaging memoir East Tennessee author Lisa Alther, child of a Yankee mother and a Virginian father, explores her family history and investigates the origins of the Melungeons, a multi-racial ethnic enclave of the Cumberland Gap. A fascinating and often humorous book about Appalachia and finding one's place in the world.

Recommended by Zack B.

Animal, vegetable, miracle : a year of food life

 

 

Animal, vegetable, miracle: a year of food life

By Barbara Kingsolver

This book made me want to move to the country, buy a big farm, and start growing my own fruits and vegetables - even though I can't keep a houseplant alive for more than a week. The combination of stories of life on the farm, practical advice about aspects of producing your own food, and input from her entire family made this a fun and fascinating read. Also available as audiobook, and eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Rebecca L.

Assassination vacation

 

 

Assassination vacation

By Sarah Vowell

Part history, part art history, part comedy, part tragedy, part travelogue: this is an enjoyable read for those interested in American history. Vowell takes a humorous and reflective look at 3 presidential assassinations: Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. The author takes the long view of history while drawing in thoughtful pieces of trivia throughout. This book is historical yet personal and accessible. It is also great as an audiobook!

Recommended by Sarah R. S.

Angelmaker

 

 

Angelmaker

By Nick Harkaway

An exciting fun read, well written and intelligent. The book is a genre-bending mix of thriller, mystery, and fantasy about spies, killer clockwork bees and the end of the world. The Wall Street Journal and Booklist called it the best mystery of 2012. Harkaway is the son of author John le Carré. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by V. V.

Someday, someday, maybe

 

 

Someday, someday, maybe

By Lauren Graham

Franny is a struggling actress whose self-imposed deadline for success is drawing to a close. Will she find an agent, romance and an acting job? Author Lauren Graham (star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood) reads the audiobook version and brings her delightful, quirky heroine to life. Also available as an audiobook (CD) and an eBook and eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Jessica S.

Americanah: a novel

 

 

Americanah: a novel

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a story of cross cultural bliss with vivid characters. The story unfolds across three different continents while bridging the global landscape of Africans and Americans. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by C. Akiti

Beautiful Ruins: a novel

 

 

Beautiful ruins: a novel

By Jess Walter

What happens when a beautiful young actress, who is an extra in the Richard Burton/Liz Taylor version of "Cleopatra", is sent away to the remote "Hotel Adequate View" in the Cinque Terre region of Italy? A moving and very funny novel about love, fame, Italy, and Hollywood. The vivid characters and suspenseful plotting will keep you engaged to the very end. Also available as an audiobook (CD) and as an eBook on OverDrive and eAudiobook on OneClickdigital.

Recommended by A. Williams

Dear girls above me: inspired by a true story

 

 

The bounden duty of the progeny : a history, Robert E. Lee Camp, no. 726, Sons of Confederate Veterans, its origins and first fifty years

By Ann Graham

Alexandria resident and member of the Daughters of the Confederacy researched and compiled a history of Robert E. Lee Camp, No. 726, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Sources included (but were not limited to) camp minutes, camp newsletters, personal interviews, original letters and photographs.

Recommended by Leslie A.

Here I go again: a novel

 

 

Here I go again: a novel

By Jen Lancaster

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time and do certain things over? In Here I Go Again, Lissy Ryder a popular HS senior in 1993 gets to do just that. While attending her 20 year reunion a former classmate gives her a special elixir and Lissy will never be the same again.

Recommended by C. Martin

The Fox in the Attic

 

 

The Fox in the attic eBook on OverDrive

By Richard Hughes

Controversial and Tolstoyean disturbing historical suspense about human nature from the perspective of a naive 23 year old English aristocrat who resided on an isolated country estate in Wales during WWII. At war's end he emerges into a changed world, physically and mentally, with perplexing attitudes about people, especially his beloved German relatives. Volume 1 of "The Human Predicament" series.

Recommended by L. Rudd

Back to top

March 2014

Letters from Skye : a novel

 

 

Letters from Skye : a novel 

By Jessica Brockmole

A reclusive poet on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and a college student in Illinois begin exchanging letters on the eve of World War I. These unlikely confidantes build a close relationship through their correspondence, even as the world falls apart around them. Romantic and heartbreaking, this is a good choice for fans of 84, Charing Cross Road and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

Recommended by Jessica S.

Bossypants (Audiobook)

 

 

Bossypants (Audiobook)

By Tina Fey

I listened to this biography in the car while going to and from work. It's the one time that I wished my commute was longer. Read by the author, this book is sure to bring a smile to your face where ever you are headed. Also available as a book and as an eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Samantha P.

Phantom of the Opera

 

 

Phantom of the Opera

By Gaston Leroux

This is a classic book about an opera ghost in love with a young singer. Available in several different editions and formats.

Recommended by Colleen H.

Madame Tussaud : a novel of the French revolution

 

 

 

Madame Tussaud : a novel of the French revolution 

By Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran is my go to author for historical fiction. I have read all of her books. I have been to Madame Tussaud's in Las Vegas but had no idea that she was a real person. Marie Grosholtz, who would become Madame Tussaud, is a wax sculptress during the time of the reign of terror and the French Revolution. She and her family are "survivalists" who "straddle both worlds until it's clear which side will be the victor" but never come across as opportunists; they are resourceful, sympathetic individuals facing an unraveling nation and an increasingly angry mob mentality. Marie is a strong and likeable character and I found myself riveted to her story.

Recommended by Katie D.


Midnight rising : John Brown and raid that sparked the Civil War

 

 

Midnight rising : John Brown and raid that sparked the Civil War

By Tony Horwitz

An in-depth account of the life of abolitionist John Brown and the planning that preceded the raid at Harper's Ferry, leading the nation into the Civil War. John Brown attended his trial bedridden from wounds suffered during the raid, cementing his influence to both supporters and foes. Also available in Large Print and as an eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by A. Williams

Beethoven : the man revealed

 

 

Beethoven : the man revealed

By John Suchet

This is a well-written accessible biography of one of the world's greatest musicians. This book is written in an engaging plain language that can be understood by readers who are not musicologists.

Recommended by V. V.

Vij's at home : relax, honey

 

 

 

 

 

Vij's at home : relax, honey

By Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala

I was lucky enough to dine at Vikram Vij’s Vancouver restaurant several years ago, and never have forgotten the generosity of the host and chef, who checks in with every customer throughout the meal and serves complimentary fresh chai and appetizers in the lounge. This hospitality clearly suffuses the personal stories and serving tips which accompany each beautifully photographed recipe in Vij’s book. The dishes may taste complex, but most require simple techniques and a small arsenal of spices easily acquired at your local grocery or Indian market (try Alexandria favorite Ginger & Spice). Some of the recipes already have worked themselves into my home’s weekly rotation, including spicy cauliflower “steak” and mung bean coconut curry.

Recommended by S. Brown


Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America

 

 

Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America

By Wilma King

Historian illuminates the lives of millions of enslaved children through "work, play and leisure, education, socialization, resistance to slavery, and the transition to freedom."

Recommended by Leslie A.

King Leopold's ghost : a story of greed, terror, and heroism in colonial Africa

 

 

King Leopold's ghost : a story of greed, terror, and heroism in colonial Africa

By Adam Hochschild

Hochschild’s chilling true account of King Leopold’s exploitation of the Congolese for ivory and rubber began in a footnote he saw in a Mark Twain novel. The shattered Colonial Africa described in greed and torment as it had never been explained before. This page-turner journeys from Belgium to the Congo and back, explores the world unaware of the deaths, the cover-ups, and the brave witnesses who came forward to shed light on the reality of the atrocities committed in this region.

Recommended by Tina M.

Hard Going

 

 

Hard Going

By Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Running out of favorite mysteries? I can highly recommend Harrod-Eagles' Bill Slider series. Cleverly written, not overly gruesome, London police procedurals that are actually fun to read. "Hard Going" is number sixteen; the main characters Detective Inspector Bill Slider and his girlfriend, then wife, Joanna, a professional violinist,try to deal with personal issues and the demands of their jobs, managing many bumps in the road.

Recommended by Marilyn D.

Back to top

April 2014

The chaperone

 

 

The chaperone

By Laura Moriarty

It is 1922 when 36 year old Cora Carlisle, of Wichita, KS, is asked to chaperone her friend's 15 year old daughter for 5 weeks in New York City while she attends the Denishawn Dance Company (known for including Martha Graham.) The daughter is the beautiful and headstrong Louise Brooks, who later becomes the well known flapper and silent film star. While in New York Cora has her own mission to dig up secrets of her family's background. Also available as an audiobook and as an eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by A. Williams

Leviathan wakes

 

 

Leviathan wakes

By James S. A. Corey

This is an exciting award-winning space opera that will keep you turning pages far past your bed time. Follow a spaceship captain and a police detective whose lives are consumed by circumstances that leave them responsible for preventing all-out war between the colonies of our solar system. If you are a fan of science fiction, or even just an action lover, I highly recommend you try out the first novel in this ongoing series.

Recommended by April R.

The dressmaker: a novel

 

 

The dressmaker

By Kate Alcott

Interesting story about human nature. Tess obtains a lady's maid job to famous designer going to America aboard the Titanic and is one of the last women "allowed" on a survival boat. This is the beginning of a well paced story. Reporters begin interviewing survivors and discover that many "survived" at the expense of others, causing suspicion and doubt among the survivors and destroying the good will of those rallying around them. Also available as an eBook and eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by L. Rudd

Why can't I get better? : solving the mystery of lyme and chronic disease

 

 

 

 

 

Why can't I get better? : solving the mystery of lyme and chronic disease

By Richard I. Horowitz

If you’re one of the estimated 300,000 patients diagnosed each year with Lyme disease, this is the book you have been waiting for. A comprehensive guide to treating Lyme (including co-infections, which often complicate the picture and prevent healing), the book details Dr. Horowitz’s 16-point diagnostic map and illustrates each with compassionate case studies. The appendix includes specific antibiotic treatment protocols for health-care providers –- a perfect take-along for your next doctor’s appointment. Lyme is a debilitating epidemic that can affect all systems in the body, yet few doctors are equipped to recognize or treat it. Hopefully, this new book will go a long way in rectifying that problem, and toward helping us to understand chronic illness in general.

Recommended by Susan B.


The flight of Gemma Hardy : a novel

 

 

The flight of Gemma Hardy : a novel

By Margot Livesey

Relocate Jane Eyre to the 1960’s Scotland, and you will get Gemma Hardy. From her miserable orphaned childhood to her dream job as an au pair on the isolated Orkney islands, Gemma will captivate readers. Bronte fans will find much to enjoy in this retelling of the classic novel. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive and as an audiobook (CD).

Recommended by Jessica S.

Avotaynu guide to Jewish genealogy

 

 

Avotaynu guide to Jewish genealogy

By Sallyann Amdur Sack

Covers the essentials of Jewish genealogical research in the United States and the country of ancestry. Includes country and regional maps. Appendix includes German, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, and Yiddish alphabets.

Recommended by Leslie A.

 Boy, snow, bird

 

 

Boy, snow, bird

By Helen Oyeyemi

“Boy, Snow, Bird”, is a gripping story that takes the reader on a wild ride of cultural diversity. The author is a talented storyteller who intertwines fantasy and reality throughout the course of the main character’s life. The book deals with racial and gender identity issues, and discoveries. This is a must read!

Recommended by Leo B.


Shades of Milk and Honey

 

 

Shades of Milk and Honey

By Mary Robinette Kowal

I love this series. It satisfies both a Jane Austen fix and appeals to the fantasy lover in me. In this alternate history of a Regency England, a lady's chance at a good match improves with her every talent: good taste in the arts, a deft hand at pulling images from the ether, and proper conduct in polite society. Miss Jane Ellsworth was born with gifts of a keen artistic eye and creating mesmerizing glamours, but her sister, Melody, was born with the gift of physical beauty. In the end, which is truly the more desirable? Also available as an eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Katie D.

Reconstructing Amelia

 

 

Reconstructing Amelia

By Kimberly McCreight

McCreight's debut novel is hard to put down. It is one part literary fiction, one part mystery and kept this reader entertained until the very end. This book is all at once heartbreaking and beautiful and has been one of my favorite books so far this year. Also available as an eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Samantha P.

Back to top

May 2014

When Washington Was in Vogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Washington Was in Vogue

By Edwards Christopher Williams

This 2014 choice for All Alexandria Reads demonstrates that the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance was occuring in 1920s Washington as well. The main character is Davy Carr, a WWI veteran who comes to Washington to do research, and discovers a rich cultural scene in the African-American community there. He stays with the Rhodes family and their two socially prominent daughters. Davy describes the society parties and events he attends through a series of letters written to a friend back in New York. Drama ensues due to mixed messages between Davy and Caroline Rhodes, a budding flapper. Fortunately the story has a satisfying end! Also of note, the author was the first African-American librarian in the United States.

Don't miss our hand selected list of books and resources about the 1920s and Washington D.C.

Recommended by A. Williams


The Pearl : a failed slave escape on the Potomac

 

 

 

 

The Pearl : a failed slave escape on the Potomac

By Josephine F. Pacheco

This book is a fascinating detail of the largest slave escape ever attempted and it took place right here in Washington, D.C. Recounting this harrowing tale from the preparations for escape through the participants' trial, Josephine Pacheco provides fresh insight into the lives of enslaved blacks in the District of Columbia, putting a human face on the victims of the interstate slave trade, whose lives have been overshadowed by larger historical events. Pacheco also details the Congressional debates about slavery that resulted from this large-scale escape attempt. Though the book is very dense it is well worth the read.

Recommended by Katie D.


Knitting vintage : 30 knitting projects inspired by period fashions

 

 

 

Knitting vintage : 30 knitting projects inspired by period fashions

By Claire Montgomerie

Try your hand at this collection of vintage inspired knitting projects. Ranging from the roaring twenties to the dramatic eighties these patterns will have you stepping back in time and stepping out in fashion. In keeping with the theme with this year's All Alexandria Reads book, When Washington Was in Vogue, take a look at the specific 1920's patterns including a string of beads, a fringed flapper top, and a classy cloche. Like to craft? Don't miss our upcoming AAR craft programs!

Recommended by April D.

The Ghost Bride

 

 

 

The Ghost Bride

By Yangsze Choo

Set at the end of the eighteenth century in Malaysia, The Ghost Bride tells the story of Li Lan, daughter of a once-prosperous family on the brink of ruin. When approached by a wealthy family to be the bride of their deceased son, Li Lan finds herself drawn against her will into the complicated shadow world of the Chinese afterlife. From being a sheltered daughter of privilege, she must find the courage and skill to investigate secrets and treacheries that put both her earthly and spirit existence in danger.

Recommended by Julie D.


Bend-the-rules Sewing: the essential guide to a whole new way to sew

 

 

 

Bend-the-rules Sewing: the essential guide to a whole new way to sew

By Amy Karol

A great book for beginners, this book will walk you through sewing basic projects such as bibs, tote bags, aprons and more. The author encourages you to take her basic patterns and put your own spin on them. Clear instructions and fun ideas make this a great reference for more experienced sewers as well. Dust off your sewing machine and get busy! 

Recommended by Jessica S.

The king's grave : the discovery of Richard III's lost burial place and the clues it holds

 

 

 

The king's grave : the discovery of Richard III's lost burial place and the clues it holds

By Philippa Langley & Michael K. Jones

They found King Richard III in the parking lot! And was he really the evil monster portrayed in Shakespeare's play? The book is an engrossing read; chapters alternate between the 15th and 21st centuries describing the discovery of Richard III's remains in Leicester and the story of the last Plantagenet king. 

Recommended by V. V.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

 

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" is a wonderful story about a personal journey in an era of change. The protagonist, Janie, has a deep understanding of what it means to know freedom, independence, love, compassion, jealousy, and empathy. Her story gives the reader insight about life for African-Americans living in Florida, in the early 20th century.

Recommended by Leo B.

Life on the refrigerator door : notes between a mother and daughter : a novel in notes

 

 

Life on the refrigerator door : notes between a mother and daughter : a novel in notes

By Alice Kuipers

Like the 2014 All Alexandria Reads selection, this book is told entirely in letters... or notes on a refrigerator door to be more exact. This is a beautiful story of a mother and a teen daughter whose busy lives are keeping them apart. Through their notes see how they cope when they have to face a crisis, and how their relationship and love grows as a result.

Recommended by Samantha P.

A Nation Within A Nation: Organizing African-American Communities Before the Civil War

 

 

A Nation Within A Nation: Organizing African-American Communities Before the Civil War

By John Earnest

African Americans were agents of change in coherent communities before Emancipation. Free and enslaved people organized institutions to uplift and improve the lives of men, women, and children. They established mutual benefit societies, fraternal organizations, schools, churches, publishing concerns, and other associations.

Recommended by Leslie A.

Back to top

June 2014

A perfect proposal

 

A perfect proposal

By Katie Fforde

British author Katie Fforde's novels are great for summer reading. They are humorous romances featuring a plucky, yet often stubborn, heroine. In "A Perfect Proposal" Sophie Apperly feels unappreciated by her family in England and eagerly accepts an invitation from a friend to stay in New York. While there she meets a wealthy grand dame, Matilda, who invites her to Connecticut for Thanksgiving. Sparks fly when Sophie encounters Matilda's handsome yet arrogant grandson.

Recommended by A. Williams

The Pixar touch : the making of a company

 

 

The Pixar Touch: The Making of A Company

By David A. Price

Toy Story is one of the most beloved animated films of both children and adults. The story behind its creation is even more interesting. The Pixar Touch is about a group of people with a passion for animation who dreamed up new technology and software, mixed it with the classic storytelling tradition of Disney, and transformed the way animated movies are made. If you enjoy this book, be sure to check out Creativity, Inc. by Pixar's founding CEO Ed Catmull as well!

Recommended by Rebecca L.


The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

 

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

By Valerie Martin

Inspired by the true story of the ship "Mary Celeste" found off the coast of Spain in 1872 with no one on board, Martin weaves a tragic and haunting account of the disappearance of a family and the missing crew by threading two fascinating stories: one of Arthur Conan Doyle and the other involving a medium. A riveting read!

Recommended by Carol P.


The Bookshop

 

The Bookshop

By Penelope Fitzgerald

If you've never read anything by Penelope Fitzgerald we highly recommend you give her a try. Her books are exquisitely crafted and not very long. The Bookshop tells the tale of a brave woman who opens a bookshop in a provincial town despite resistance from one of the local gentry.

Recommended by V. V.


Historic Alexandria: An Illustrated History

 

Historic Alexandria: An Illustrated History

By Ted Pulliam

Commissioned by the Office of Historic Alexandria. Includes bibliography and profiles of businesses, organizations, and families that have contributed to the economic development of Alexandria.

Recommended by Leslie A.


A Purrfect Love

 

A Purrfect Love (eBook on OverDrive)

By D.K. Abbott

An adorable tale about Wall, a small tabby who is upset that he looks different from his litter mates, and worse, he cannot purr. He is told by his mommy cat that he will "purr" when he is happy and Wally sets out to find love and acceptance. Lovely story.

Recommended by L. Rudd


The Worry Week 

 

The Worry Week

By Ann Lindbergh

A series of events leads to Allegra and her two sisters alone at their family's Maine house for a whole week. What she thought would be a wonderful adventure turns into something else entirely. A delightful summer story.

Recommended by Jessica S.



Back to top

July 2014

I hate to leave this beautiful place

 

 

I hate to leave this beautiful place

By Howard Norman

Take an unforgettable journey with the author of novels, such as The Bird Artist, as Norman meditates on his boyhood working in a bookmobile, translating Inuit tales in the Canadian Arctic, studying birds in Point Reyes, and most recently facing inconceivable horror and tragedy invading his home and hearth. Read one of the most quietly spellbinding books you'll read this summer.

Recommended by Caroline P.

The thing around your neck

 

 

Lookaway, Lookaway

By Wilton Barnhardt

I listened to this novel as an audiobook. The story tells of the Jarvis-Johnston family from Charlotte, NC. The matriarch, Jerene, tries to maintain a respectable façade for the family despite the unseemly events her 4 children and brother seem to get into on a regular basis. The narrator, actor Scott Sheperd, expertly portrays all characters. A best pick of 2013 for Slate Magazine and Kirkus Magazine, which says "it is the Southern novel for the 21st century." Also available as an eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by A. Williams

Fever

 

 

Fever

By Mary Beth Keane

The fictionalized account of the life of Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. This story will be sure to please those that love a good medical drama and those who love the stories of strong, courageous women.

Recommended by Samantha P.

Alexandria, Virginia Pottery 1792-1876

 

 

By Eddie L. Wilder

Local author traces the history of pottery manufacture from earthenware to stoneware. Wilder reveals new information about the craftsmen, merchants, and businessmen. Includes 700+ color images (maps, photos and illustrations).

Recommended by Leslie A.

The traitor's wife : a novel : the woman behind Benedict Arnold and the plan to betray America

 

 

The traitor's wife : a novel : the woman behind Benedict Arnold and the plan to betray America

By Allison Pataki

The name Benedict Arnold is synonymous with traitor but what lead to this decorated General betraying his country? Allison Pataki tells the story of Peggy Shippen who became Mrs. Benedict Arnold through the eyes of a fictional ladies maid Clara. Clara becomes witness to all the scheming of Peggy Arnold and the eventual act of betrayal. This is a fantastic book.

Recommended by Katie D.

The Thing Around Your Neck

 

 

The Thing Around Your Neck

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nominated for the Booker Prize for her first novel, The Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck is a beautiful collection of short stories that explore Nigerian and Nigerian American life. The stories depict the complexities of family, gender, and nationality with powerful and brilliant prose. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive and eAudiobook on OneClickdigital.

Recommended by Sarah R. S.

The queen's dwarf

 

 

The queen's dwarf

By Ella March Chase

This dwarf is not George R.R. Martin's Imp. If you're looking for a grown-up version of the Tale of Despereaux, this is it. A physically small (18" tall!) champion of the queen does his best to keep her safe, in spite of his role in court intrigues intended to destroy her and undermine the king. Based on a true tale of a little person, this historical novel captures the complicated political climate of the Stuart court of Charles the First. You also watch the development of butcher's boy Jeffery Hudson's into Lord Minimus, foremost among the queen's favorites and staunchest defender.

Recommended by Kym R.

 Back to top

August 2014

Five days at Memorial : life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital

 

 

Five days at Memorial : life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital

By Sheri Fink

Five Days at Memorial recounts the terrible days during and following Hurricane Katrina at New Orleans Memorial Hospital. Don't be intimidated by the length of this book. It is riveting and will keep you engaged and thinking until the very last page. Investigative journalism at its finest. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive and in audiobook (CD) format.

Recommended by Samantha P.

Andre the Giant : life and legend

 

 

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend

By Box Brown

I was a huge wrestling fan as a child, and even watched the cartoon Hulk Hogan and Friends. As an adult, of course, The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies and I can recite every line. When I saw this graphic biography come in I knew I had to read it. It follows the life of Andre Roussimoff who would become the wrestler Andre the Giant. Box Brown tells you all the things you would want to know but he doesn't gloss over Andre's faults. If you ever wanted to know more about the 7'4'' 600lb giant of the wrestling world check this one out.

Recommended by Katie D.

The quest

 

 

The Quest

By Wilbur A. Smith

The fictionalized account of the life of Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. This story will be sure to please those that love a good medical drama and those who love the stories of strong, courageous women.

Recommended by Tina M.

The bright continent : breaking rules and making change in modern Africa

 

 

The bright continent : breaking rules and making change in modern Africa

By Dayo Olopade

This book gives the most comprehensive account of technological and social innovations occurring at the moment in Africa. Out of Sheer desperation from lack of government and social structures, the youth and the citizens invoke means and opportunities to innovate.

Recommended by Confidence A.

The wedding girl

 

 

The wedding girl

By Madeleine Wickham

It was fun and very easy read. The story of foolish choice we make as a younger person and pay for it later in life. All fun...

Recommended by S. Parvas

The guns of August

 

 

The guns of August

By Barbara Wertheim Tuchman

If your interest in World War I has been piqued by the current spate of titles, fiction and non-fiction, related to the event, don't neglect this classic title originally published in 1962. The author was scoffed at by some for a 'popular' (read "not scholarly enough") book, but her take on the characters and strategies leading into the war is fascinating, readable, even witty. The book includes a substantial bibliography. Also available as an eBook and eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Marilyn D.

Once upon a playground : a celebration of classic American playgrounds, 1920-1975

 

 

Once Upon a Playground : a Celebration of Classic American Playgrounds, 1920-1975

By Brenda Biondo

This collection features catalog and promotional images of slides, see-saws, jungle-gyms, etc. contrasted with photos of the same equipment, after decades of hard, joyful use, standing watch over abandoned playgrounds. By turns wistful and creepy, this is a flood of nostalgia held back by two hard covers, quietly waiting to delight and intrigue even the casual investigator.

Recommended by Zach B.

The family that couldn't sleep : a medical mystery

 

 

The family that couldn't sleep : a medical mystery 

By D.T. Max

Alexandria author Daniel Max describes an Italian family whose members suffer a hereditary disorder of which the medical profession is still puzzled. It is educational, a page-turner,full of compassion, written in nontechnical language.

Recommended by Ruth H.

Little failure : a memoir

 

 

Little failure: a memoir

By Gary Shteyngart

Here is Igor: an asthmatic weakling living in Russia bestowed with an inspiring nickname of Failurchka or "Little Failure." At age 5, he was paid in cheese for writing his first novel "Lenin and his magical goose" for his Babushka Grandmother. Get ready to laugh out loud and root for his family's hilarious yet poignant pursuit of "The American Dream." And you'll see why this little failure is a big success. Also available in audiobook (CD) format.

Recommended by Caroline P.

 Back to top

September 2014

Under a silent moon : a novel

 

 

Under a silent moon : a novel 

By Elizabeth Haynes

First in a new series, Under a Silent Moon introduces Louisa Smith, who finds herself in charge of the investigation of a brutal murder and a suspected suicide. As the evidence grows, a startling link appears between the two crimes. Haynes incorporates witness reports, interviews and other "primary sources" into her narrative, which adds an interesting new layer to the traditional police procedural. The multi-faceted Smith and supporting characters will leave readers waiting for the next installment.

Recommended by Jessica S.

The newlyweds : a novel

 

 

 

 

The newlyweds : a novel

By Nell Freudenberger

George, an American engineer, and Amina, an ambitious and upwardly mobile woman in Bangladesh, meet on an Internet dating site and decide to get married. But George has not been completely honest about his background and Amina has an agenda she hasn't shared fully with George. Can their marriage survive secrets and cultural conflicts? The author is an acute observer of middle-class lives in America and India; you'll find yourself rooting for the couple to make their way through what Kiran Desai calls "a vast landscape of imbalance and misunderstanding." Also available as an eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Marilyn D.


The Big Snow

 

 

The Big Snow

By David Park

The book offers a series of discreat stories brought together, not by the characters but, by a unifying human experience.

Recommended by Ruth H.

The tower, the zoo, and the tortoise

 

 

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

By Julia Stuart

Meet Balthazar, wife Hebe and their 120-year old pet Tortoise. The London Tower is their place of abode, which also houses a colorful cast of characters; i.e. a chaplain who writes erotic fiction. Add the exotic animals under Balthazar's care, such as a lovesick albatross and a bearded pig, and you have a recipe for an irresistible story which will leave you both in laughter and in tears this summer. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive.

Recommended by Carol P.

Don't pigeonhole me! : two decades of the Mo Willems sketchbook

 

 

Don't pigeonhole me! : two decades of the Mo Willems sketchbook

By Mo Willems

Love Mo Willems and his cast of characters? This large coffee table books shares with the reader twenty years of Mo's sketches. See how many of his beloved characters came to be and meet some never seen before.

Recommended by Samantha P.

American psycho : a novel

 

 

American psycho : a novel 

By Bret Easton Ellis

The most disgusting, terrifying, and well-written book of Easton's career. The overt materialism and excess of 1980s is perfectly captured in this maybe-horror. Also available as motion picture starring Christian Bale.

Recommended by Kevin O.

Little felted animals

 

 

Little felted animals : create 16 irresistible creatures with simple needle-felting techniques

By Marie-Noelle Horvath

Try your hand at needle-felting; a craft that involves poking a sharp, barbed needle into a piece of wool roving. What starts out a shapeless mound of wool turns into adorable miniature animals. Great for gifts and decorations. Warning: keep a box of band-aids handy for rogue felting pokes!

Recommended by April D.

 Back to top

October 2014

Breaking out : an Indian woman's American journey

 

 

 

 

Breaking Out--An Indian Woman's American Journey

By Padma Desai

Living in a foreign country for a year gave me a life-long interest in immigrant stories. How do others fare when transplanted thousands of miles from home? Padma Desai came from a sleepy village in India, but her otherwise traditional father encouraged both university in Bombay, and the leap to America and a Harvard doctorate. As she rose to become a top scholar of the Russian economy, she fought the consequences of an early disastrous marriage, knowing that had she stayed in India she would not have had the strength to move on. Dr. Desai's story is equally about what America gained from her brilliance and what she gained from becoming American. A fascinating read for Diversity Month.

Recommended by Marilyn D.


Cubanita

 

Cubanita

By Gaby Triana

The story of a second generation Cuban immigrant caught between her own heritage and American culture.

Recommended by Rosalinda D.

My neighbor's faith : stories of interreligious encounter, growth, and transformation

 

 

My Neighbor's Faith : stories of interreligious encounter growth and transformation

By Jennifer Howe Peace, Or N. Rose, and Gregory Mobley

At a time where we live in the most religiously and culturally diverse society, this book will teach us how we can live together with mutual respect and working together toward a more compassiionate and just world.

Recommended by Ruth H.

Catfish and mandala : a two-wheeled voyage through the landscape and memory of Vietnam

 

 

 

Catfish and mandala: a two-wheeled voyage through the landscape and memory of Vietnam

By Andrew X. Pham

This is a beautiful story of the author's search for his own identity. Coming to America at the age of ten, he always identifies himeself as an American but not to the people around him. He decides to go back to his birthy country to learn more about where he came from on his bicycle. The author's bicycle journey unveils the life and the people he meets along the way and how his life is ever changed when he returns home to America. This book is a "Jack Kerouac meets Wild Swans".

Recommended by D.L.


The running dream

 

The Running Dream

By Wendelin Van Draanen

A powerful story about a 16 year old track star who perseveres after a tragic accident. Every teen, I know, who reads it, loves it!

Recommended by G. Schuler

The Interestings

 

The Interestings

By Meg Wolitzer

A group of teenagers in the mid 1970s come together at an upstate New York arts camp and forge bonds that last through middle age. They dub themselves "The Interestings". It is November's selection for Barrett's Let's Talk Books discussion.

Recommended by A. Williams

My beloved world

 

 

 

My Beloved World

By Sonia Sotomayor

With captivating honesty and candor, Sonia Sotomayor recounts the struggles of her childhood in the Bronx and rise to become the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court (and the third female Justice). Detailing her childhood with an alcoholic father, diagnosis with juvenile diabetes, and struggles to obtain her education from valedictorian through law school, Sotomayor’s story reveals a woman who is both relatable and inspirational. This is one you don’t want to miss! Available in regular, large print and audio formats.

Recommended by Jessica S.

Pig in a Taxi and Other African Adventures

 

 

Pig in a Taxi and Other African Adventures (eBook)

By Suzanne Crocker

A funny and inspiring book by a missionary couple on their adventures in Africa. Stories for young and old about encountering problems due to cultural and language differences, experiencing blessings of faith regardless of differing religious customs, and making sacrifices of self for others in order to share a depth of spiritual love and physical needs of people being ministered to. Truly the world is one and selfless love unites all.

Recommended by L. Rudd

 Back to top

November 2014

Night Film: a novel

 

Night Film: a novel

By Marisha Pessl

This novel mixes media to tell the truly haunting tale of the death of the daughter of a legendary horror film director. Couldn't put this one down.

Recommended by Samantha P.


The interplanetary toy book : space people, vehicles, creatures, and more for you to make

 

 

The interplanetary toy book : space people, vehicles, creatures, and more for you to make

By J. Alan Williams

Imaginative youngsters (and their earthling parents) follow simple instructions to build alien creatures, space vehicles, and cosmic hideouts. This was one of my all-time favorites when I was a child, particularly because of the suggestions for customizing my creations. The emphasis on re-using common household items gives it an ecological angle, as well.

Recommended by Zach B.

Touching the Void

 

 

Touching the Void

By Joe Simpson

After a falling and breaking his leg, Joe Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates still had to figure out a way to get off the mountain; a descent that would cover 3,000 miles. After attempting to belay each other down, a series of bad luck led Yates to eventually cut the rope and cause Simpson to plummet down the cliff and into a crevasse. Thinking Simpson was dead, Yates continued down the mountain. Simpson, however, was still alive. Also available as a 2004 motion picture.

Recommended by April D.

 Cartwheeling in thunderstorms

 

Cartwheeling in thunderstorms 

By Katherine Rundell

This is a luminous story about a young girl named Willy, who is forced to leave her carefree life on a sun filled African farm, to attend boarding school in cold, rainy London. At boarding school Willy must be Wilhelmina, and her spirit and love of life is sorely tested. Willy's ingenuity and courage are an inspiration.

Recommended by G. Crowley


My brilliant friend

 

My brilliant friend

By Elena Ferrante

Don't miss this modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed and mysterious novelists. This is the first of Ferrante's Neapolitan trilogy about the intense and complex friendship between two women, Elena and Lina, and how it evolves through decades as they grow up together in the poor and violent suburbs of Naples in the 1950s. Continue the saga in Story of a New Name.

Recommended by Carol P.

 A land more kind than home

 

A land more kind than home 

By Wiley Cash

Wiley Cash’s writing is so beautiful you almost don’t realize what dark subjects he is writing about. In This Dark Road to Mercy, two young boys see something they shouldn’t and the consequences are devastating. The story unfolds through the perspective of three unique characters who tell this heartbreaking story in resonant detail.

Recommended by Jessica S.

Happy hour at Casa Dracula

 

 

Happy hour at Casa Dracula

By Marta Acosta

Check out the first book in this take on the vampire genre. I loved it. Latina Ivy League grad Milagro de Los Santos can't find her place in the world or a man to go with it. Then one night, at a book party for her pretentious ex-boyfriend, she meets an oddly attractive man. After she is bitten while kissing him, she falls ill and is squirreled away to his family's estate to recover. Vampires don't exist in this day and age -- or do they?

Recommended by Katie D.

 Back to top

December 2014

Gorky Park

 

Gorky Park 

This Cold War-era novel is the first of the fantastic Arkady Renko series. Feel the chill in the air as Chief Homicide Investigator Renko travels the snowy streets of Moscow to investigate a triple homicide. A great mystery and a retro read that is still interesting 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Also available in eBook format.By Martin Cruz Smith

Recommended by Rebecca L.


Snow like ashes

 

 

Snow like ashes 

By Sara Raasch

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since. This is a great fantasy book with really awesome world building and a strong likeable heroine.

Recommended by Katie D.

The winter people

 

 

The winter people 

By Jennifer McMahon

Hauntingly beautiful book about the bond between mothers and daughters. Switching back and forth between 1908 and present, this book weaves a story of loss and love and keeps the reader wondering if history will repeat itself. A great book to curl up with on a snowy day. Also available in audiobook (CD) and large print format.

Recommended by Samantha P.

The winter horses

 

 

 

 

The winter horses 

By Philip Kerr

Kalinka is on the run from the Nazi's. They invaded her city and killed her family, and only she escaped. But now she is cold and hungry, sleeping out in the thin shelter of the forest bordering the steppes as winter begins its onslaught. Two horses come to her rescue, an ancient breed with lineage going back to prehistory. The Przewalski horses live only in Eastern Europe, and are known for their intelligence. They befriend Kalinka, but it isn't long before they need her help as much as she needs theirs, when they become targets of Nazi fury. This is both a heart-warming and heart-breaking story.

Recommended by G. Crowley


The Chronicles of Narnia: The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe

 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe 

By C.S. Lewis

This book has some amazing adventures of four siblings who save an enchanted land from an evil witch. The battle scene is something worth reading. Also available in eBook, eAudiobook, and audiobook (CD) format.

Recommended by Colleen F.

A Christmas memory, one Christmas, & the Thanksgiving visitor

 

A Christmas memory, one Christmas, & the Thanksgiving visitor 

By Truman Capote

Don't miss this holiday classic by Truman Capote, which features a trio of funny and heartwarming stories of a young boy's friendship with his elderly cousin named Miss Sook. Then join us for a book discussion at the Burke Branch on Wed, Dec 17th at 3 pm!

Recommended by Carol P.

 Burial rites : a novel

 

 

Burial rites : a novel 

By Hannah Kent

Compelling and atmospheric, Burial Rites will make you want to curl up under a thick quilt. Set in stark Iceland in 1829, this is the story of Agnes, a young maid accused of a terrible crime, and the rural farming family she is sent to live with while awaiting her fate. Agnes’ story is slowly revealed as she confides in a young priest, but only the reader is privy to the full tale. Beautifully written and exhaustively researched, Kent’s debut novel brings to mind Margaret Atwood’s wonderful "Alias Grace." Also available in large print, audiobook (CD) and eBook formats.

Recommended by Jessica S.

 Back to top

jun