Staff Book Picks

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Jun 30, 2014 by jimj

“Whatever else it was, it was one hell of summer.” That’s Bryson’s excellent summary of the epochal summer of 1927 with its captivating events (Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic; the invention of TV), outsized characters performing deeds heroic (the Babe's pursuit of home run glory) or dubious (Al Capone’s rule of Chicago), cultural faux pas (the popularity of eugenics and the heydey of the KKK), and just plain weirdness (Alvin Kelly establishes a new record by sitting atop a flagpole for 12 days). A wonderfully detailed, fast paced and delightfully humorous narrative of America’s arrival on the world’s stage. Check Our Catalog

Jun 20, 2014 by julier

The most intense Anna Pigeon novel to date (and this is number 18!), this thriller starts when our favorite National Park Service Ranger's short weekend camping trip with friends turns into a fight for survival against kidnappers. As with all Nevada Barr mysteries, the Minnesota wilderness is as much a character as any of the people. I seriously enjoyed this but you really need to be familiar with the other Anna Pigeon novels to understand how she deals with the situation. Check Our Catalog

Jun 18, 2014 by jimj

A man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He wanders into the farmstead of a friend from his youth, follows a path to a duck pond--which may be the ocean--and, begins to remember “everything.”  His friend’s grandmother may be as old as the world. His nanny may be a monster. The pennies in his piggy bank may be gold.  In this slim, provocative, terribly beautiful dreamscape of childhood Gaiman probes the vulnerability of youth, the power (and unreliability) of memory, the consolation of (written) adventures and fables, the logic of whimsy, and produces a masterpiece of imaginative world-building. Check Our Catalog

Jun 17, 2014 by claudias

If you’re a fan of Diane Gabaldon, and like big historical novels for the summer, here’s a great series for you. Okay it’s not as well written as the Outlander series, but it’s for the beach! The whole series is available as e-books. “Into the Wilderness" (the first of five books in this series) is the story of Elizabeth Middleton, an independent, strong-willed English woman who travels to America in 1792 to set up a school in 'Paradise', a primitive settlement in New York state. Her father has plans to marry her off to a wealthy settler and solve his financial problems. But Elizabeth is just as determined to realize her dream in the hostile new land and finds an unlikely supporter in a rugged Scottish trapper who is also an honorary member of the Mohawk Wolf clan. Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk nation with these two outsiders torn between different worlds, this is an epic love story. A strong female character, an adventurous, handsome male love interest, backwoods survival, and some American history as background are what make this a fun read while you’re waiting to get Gabaldon’s newest book. Check Our Catalog

Jun 9, 2014 by jimj

Set in 7th century Britain, this coming of age story narrates the early life and young adulthood of the girl who will become abbess St. Hild of Whitby, whose advice was sought by religious and political leaders. Griffith’s telling evokes a richly detailed world that is so different from our own that it’s virtually alien. Born into a pagan world where power is often brokered by marriage alliances between kingdoms,  Christianity is on the rise. Hild’s preternatural observations of human nature and keen political acumen secure her place as her uncle, the king’s, seer and “peaceweaver”. Griffith’s tale demystifies history without robbing it of the magic that is the warp and woof of human interaction.Check Our Catalog

Jun 5, 2014 by maryc

E.A., short for Ethan Allen, comes of age in Northern Vermont and lives for baseball. So does the whole town of Kingdom Common.  They are all rabid Red Sox fans and have a replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster on top of the local baseball bat factory.  To say the least, E.A's upbringing is unconventional, yet in its own way grounded and loving. As he grows so does his love for baseball, especially when a talented drifter comes to town and becomes coach and mentor. The book was written pre-Red Sox World Series Championship wins. But if you remember those days, you can appreciate the state of mind and hope for a miracle when E.A. gets a chance to pitch for his beloved team. The author's knowledge of baseball certainly comes through as does his skill in drawing the picture of rural life and the quirky characters of a small town.  A delightful, sometimes comic, sometimes poignant summer read. Check Our Catalog

May 27, 2014 by claudias

She counted among her best friends the literary giants of the nineteenth century yet few people really know her story. Megan Marshall’s suburb biography brings her story to a new audience who will enjoy discovering the life of this strong vibrant woman living in a paternal and masculine world yet forging her own path. Margaret was H. Waldo Emerson’s confidante, Thoreau’s editor and the first female war correspondent for the New York Tribune. She experienced firsthand the Italian revolution of 1848-49 while becoming romantically involved with an Italian soldier. Her “questionable marriage “ to him and subsequent birth of their son add to the romantic yet tragic account of her last days within sight of America’s shores. Marshall says : “My aim was to bring Margaret Fuller into the wider arena. She’s been studied by scholars for so long, but her life is so compelling and dramatic. She deserves this kind of attention.” Any miniseries action? “I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say,” she says, “but there has been some interest.” Oh, and by the way it just happened to win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Biography! ! Check Our Catalog

May 13, 2014 by jimj

New Rules for Everyday Foodies. Why do restaurants full of happy, attractive people usually serve mediocre food? Why is it difficult for consumers to see the real environmental costs of many of their decisions? Why is it common to find good ethnic restaurants in junky retail outlets? Where’s the best BBQ in the world? Why is airport (but not airplane) food getting better? Since food is a product of supply and demand Cowen helps us figure out where the supplies are fresh, the suppliers are creative, and the demanders are informed. A mouthwatering tour. Check Our Catalog

If Taylor Greer can manage to graduate high school without getting pregnant, she can manage anything. Ready for an adventure and a life better than what is offered in her small town in Kentucky, Taylor heads West in an old VW Bug. But before her car dies in Tucson, Arizona, and she begins her new life working at Jesus is Lord Auto Repair, Taylor becomes the one thing she worked so hard to avoid--a mother--after a stranger gives her a 3 year old. This is an awesome story with great characters, funny moments (and some heartbreaking ones), and a satisfying ending. Definitely worth checking out whether or not you are a fan of Kingsolver. Check Our Catalog

Apr 28, 2014 by claudias

The intimate lives and revolutionary ideas of Abigail Adams and her two remarkable sisters. We all know about “Remember the ladies” Abigail. This book delves into the other strong women in her world, sisters Mary Cranch and Elizabeth Shaw Peabody. Because the Adams were often abroad, much of what we know about Abigail and her sisters and the events happening in Boston are through their letters. It’s like having an ear to the door as each sister comments, advises and admonishes each other on everything from politics to husbands! Check Our Catalog

Apr 23, 2014 by megana

Did you ever wonder who scraped the mud off Elizabeth Bennet’s shoes, and boiled the mud stains out of her petticoats, after her tromp through the fields to visit her ailing sister Jane over at the Bingley’s house? No, probably not (I didn’t either, even though I’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice many times). Turns out it was Sarah, the Bennets’ young housemaid who toils away washing the young ladies’ linens and hauling water while dreaming of a life of her own beyond the visible horizon, perhaps even in London. This fascinating novel stands just fine on its own as a captivating portrait of life below stairs among the housemaids and footmen working for 19th century English upper class households. It’s an especially intriguing read for Austen fans: the plot is tightly connected to the plot of Pride and Prejudice but the focus is on a different cast of characters with equally compelling stories. You will never think of the Bennets in quite the same way ever again. Check Our Catalog

Apr 22, 2014 by jimj

Flawed, alcoholic super ex-cop Harry Hole returns to Norway to take on his most personal challenge: Oleg, the boy he helped raise, has been arrested for murder. The detective’s investigations of Oslo’s seedy drug culture drives him to terrifying discoveries about himself and the implications of choices he has made in the past. Nesbo continues to serve up juicy plot twists and fascinating character development. Check Our Catalog

Apr 16, 2014 by maryc

Jodi, a psychoanalyst, is in denial that her companion of 20 years is unfaithful until he decides to leave her. Their comfortable relationship is now in peril. Has she enabled him long enough? Is revenge the answer? How far will that desire for revenge take her? Todd is comfortable with their relationship, too. His meals are cooked, his house is well kept, and they enjoy their high-end lifestyle. But he wants more and takes up with yet another woman, this time younger. This sounds like the same old plot, but it is reinvented here as Harrison shows both sides of her protagonists' feelings and actions in alternating chapters, Him and Her. By peeling back the layers of their lives and revealing circumstances that brought them to where they are, you are drawn into the spiral of lives torn apart and the unsettling disintegration of a marriage. But there are some twists and turns. You don't have to like the characters to appreciate the deft hand of the author that shows the emotional dynamics that twisted and turned their lives into a slow motion train wreck. Check Our Catalog

Apr 16, 2014 by jimj

Pulitzer Prize-winning (for The Ants and On Human Nature) evolutionary biologist, naturalist and myrmecologist distills sixty years of teaching and research into 21 letters full of autobiographical anecdotes, self-effacing humor and wonder at both the bizarre and common into warm and wise counsel for those contemplating a life (not just a career) in science. More than anything such a journey begins with a passion for a particular problem, a willingness to fail, curiosity and hard work. The letters celebrate the joy of discovery. Check Our Catalog

Thinking about getting some chickens for your backyard? Before you build a coop and hatch some eggs, you might want to read this book written by Massachusetts resident and illustrator Laura Scheuer. Filled with fun anecdotes and observations, as well as many adorable photos and illustrations, this book tells the story of Scheuer's experiences as a proud owner of her own flock of chickens. From raising chicks in the living room to giving a fertile egg to one very special and broody chicken, Scheuer vividly describes all her experiences--the good, the bad, and the heartbreaking--raising and owning three hens. Check Our Catalog

Apr 8, 2014 by jimj

Few can grumble their way on a journey through the dark heart of a continent with such captivating personal  insight and descriptive power as the well-travelled and celebrated Theroux. At 70 this is his “valedictory [African] trip” from Cape Town north through Namibia and Botswana and finally to the “zone of irrationality” that is Luanda, Angola. He endures all the worst that travel in the fiscally, politically and morally wrecked world can offer (broken down vehicles, surly, corrupt and drunken officials, meals of fly-invested chicken parts) with poignant sadness and the sort of “Afro-pessimism” he denies. Theroux’s plans to finish his trip in Mali are cut short when he crosses the “Red Line” into an impoverished anarchy that extends as far north as the Sahara. His chapter “What am I doing here?” is worth the price of admission. Check Our Catalog

Apr 3, 2014 by jimj

Fifteen year old Jess is headed for California to witness the apocalypse. Accompanied by her fundamentalist parents caught up in end-of-the-world fervor and a rebellious older sister this coming-of-age road trip captures the tortured conflict between a desire to believe in something bigger than oneself and the ubiquity of popular culture’s pull. Narrated with pitch perfect skill Miller captures the heart and heartbreak of adolescence. Check our catalog

Mar 28, 2014 by ritas

A debut novel about a dissolute artist, Thomas Bayber, and his relationship with two sisters, Natalie and Alice Kessler. This is a fascinating art history story and also a satisfying chronicle of the central character’s family histories. The story takes place over three time periods, 1963, when the teenage sisters first meet and become infatuated with the older artist; 1972, when Thomas has a brief affair with Alice and she becomes pregnant; and 2007 when the now famous artist is dying. Thomas reveals to his art historian friend, David Finch, that he has the center panel of a triptych painting based on a sketch of the Kessler sisters. He wants Finch and a young erratic art authenticator, Stephen Jameson, to find the two other paintings. Why use Finch and Jameson to find these panels when a large auction house would be better suited to the task? Where are the Kessler sisters? Who has and where are the side panels? Check our catalog.
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Mar 19, 2014 by claudias

Charles Dickens was the “celebrity” of the Victorian era. Well loved for his family oriented stories and novels, his life was a combination of romantic subterfuge, financial constraints and familial duty. This biography highlights the three intensely romantic interests in his life other than his wife, the mother of his ten children. The most interesting relationship with Ellen Tiernan, twenty seven years his junior, lasts until his death. The author delves into letters and coded diaries and paints a speculative picture of this man of conflicting personality traits so “in love.” Check Our Catalog

Mar 18, 2014 by jimj

As Canada and the USA move dangerously close to war, the entire planet stands poised on the brink of an environmental catastrophe caused by global warming and the energy crisis. And only Dirk Pitt and all the fascinating characters of the National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA) can save the day! As with all Pitt novels (20 and counting), Cussler begins his story with an actual past historic event--here it’s a 19th century attempt by two doomed sailing ships to traverse the Northwest Passage--and connects it to a present-day thrill ride. Pitt matches wits with the machinations of a greedy CEO whose pristine “green” image cloaks a nefarious plot involving murder and mayhem to corner the market on a technology that will eliminate carbon from air pollution. A wonderful guilty pleasure of a read! Check Our Catalog


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