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Staff Book Picks

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Tina Fey is a great comedy writer, and this book is no exception. While there are plenty of laugh out loud moments, what made this book so enjoyable was the insightful, behind the scenes look at working for SNL, and Fey's Sarah Palin transformation, juxtaposed with Fey's struggle to be a woman in the male dominated comedy world and a working mother. Fans will enjoy this book, but it will appeal more to female readers. Check Our Catalog


Feb 17, 2012 by deirdres

If you're looking for a racy, behind the scenes rock n' roll chronicle this isn't it.  This engaging memoir by Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan is more of a reflection on his substance abuse, and overcoming it, with his life in music as a background. He spent his Seattle youth playing in various bands, surrounded by drugs and alcohol.  He was known for his drinking, which in some part he used as self medication for anxiety attacks.  After many of his friends started doing heroin and dying he made the move to Los Angeles and quickly met the guys with whom he'd form Guns N' Roses.  While achieving great success with the band, Duff sank into addiction.  His life was devoted to drinking and finding the drugs to sober him up enough to play that night's show.  Every day.  After a life-changing health crisis, he finds the strength to overcome his addiction without a 12-step program, through exercise, meditation and healthy eating. Check Our Catalog

In Whitehead’s post-apocalyptic thriller, the world is divided into two types:  the infected and the uninfected.  The world has been hit by a plague, but now it is receding and the uninfected are slowly taking back their cities.  Mark Spitz is a heavily armed civilian volunteer who is helping to eliminate remaining infected individuals.  He and his team are on the island of Manhattan cleaning out Zone One, trying to set up the base for resettlement.  Whitehead’s description of a devastated NYC is as frightening as the scenes remembered by his characters.  Check Our Catalog



Feb 13, 2012 by jimj

Starting pitcher for the New York Mets from 1983 to 1991, Darling eloquently describes the beautiful cruelty of our national pastime. This is less a technical description of the mechanics and tactics of pitching (though you will find plenty of that, too) than an insightful and captivating exploration of what goes on inside the mind of the man who occupies this uniquely strategic position. Rich with fascinating anecdotes and notes on the subtler aspects of the game, Darling provides a marvelous expose on the inner life of pitchers. Great preparation for spring training! Check Our Catalog

Feb 10, 2012 by julier

Looking to get as far away as possible from Manhattan after the death of her husband, Anna Pigeon takes a job as a seasonal ranger at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on Lake Powell.  One day on a hike in the canyons she comes across three men attacking a woman; the next thing she knows she is waking up in a 20-foot deep hole in the ground.  How Anna saves herself from this predicament and others provides the back story for this long-running series character's decison to become a National Park Service Ranger.  As always, Barr provides a twisty mystery in a gorgeously realized setting. Check Our Catalog

Feb 9, 2012 by jimj

One in three Americans captured by the Japanese in WWII died in captivity. This is the gripping story of one who survived. After enlisting in the Army Air Corps, sometime juvenile delinquent and Olympic runner Louis Zamperini's odyssey takes a decidedly grim turn when the B-24 on which he serves as a bombadier crashes in the Pacific. After drifting for 47 days, he is picked up by the Japanese. And the story turns hellish. For two and a half years he  endures the sadistic torture of his guards, humiliation, starvation, medical experiments, slave labor and disease. Effectively saved by the dropping of the atomic bombs, re-entry brings no relief to the devastation created by the POW experience. Until, that is, he hears the message of an unknown evangelist Billie Graham. The tale is horrific, inspiring and captivating. Check Our Catalog

Happy 200th, Charles Dickens.  Arguably the greatest Victorian novelist, Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England.  Dickens is best known for his works such as A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist.  He was also a great traveler and visited the United States two times, during which visits he spent a significant amount of time in the Boston area visiting the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Learn more about his life in the recent biography Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin.  Check Our Catalog

This posthumously published short novel was the last book written by Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago.  After Cain kills his brother Abel, he is forced to wander forever, through space and time, through the Old Testament.  Along the way, Cain runs into characters and situations that we are all familiar with:  Noah, Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Tower of Babel.   Saramago’s powerful retelling of Bible stories is not short on satire and contains the author’s usual charm.  Check Our Catalog



Feb 2, 2012 by megana

Fast, Furious & Funny: be prepared to read this high-octane thriller in one sitting because it's almost impossible to put down. House sitter Charlie Hardie stumbles into an assassination attempt when he arrives at a Hollywood Hills client's home, and spends the rest of the story trying to evade and outsmart the hitmen (and woman) called the Accident People. One critic called the book "insanely entertaining" and I have to agree! Better yet, it's the first in a trilogy. Check Our Catalog

Jan 31, 2012 by julier

Emily Hudson, a penniless orphan who lost her family to consumption and fever, is forced to accept the grudging hospitality of her aunt and uncle.  Emily does not fit into the dour straitlaced Cornford household where the least show of enthusiasm is deemed inappropriate.  Her cousin William, a novelist,  takes an interest in her watching every emotion and reaction as if thinking about how he would write the scene in a novel, even going so far as to interfere in events to create situations to observe.   Ultimately the novel is about how Emily learns to stand up for herself and not be manipulated by events. The jacket copy says that the novel was inspired by an episode in the life of Henry James and the novel certainly invokes the feeling of his work. Check Our Catalog

Can’t get enough Sherlock Holmes?  It seems that the famous inspector has made quite a comeback for himself.  The House of Silk offers the first Holmes novel to be authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate in 125 years.  Narrated by Watson, this is an excellent Holmes story.  The mysteries and deductions abound.  Horowitz uses excellent pacing as the clues are slowly revealed.  I quite enjoyed this book and hope to see more from Horowitz (author of the Alex Rider books and Foyle’s War TV series).  Check Our Catalog

Jan 30, 2012 by ginaf

This masterfully drawn and written Brazilian graphic novel chronicles the life of Brás, an obituary writer and son of a famous author. The story jumps around throughout Brás’ life, but every chapter ends the same way: Brás dies. More beautiful than morbid, the novel shows the reader all the possibilities life has to offer and how, in a moment, those possibilities can vanish. The sparse words and powerful images—wonderful enough to be framed on a wall—draw you in to the heartaches, the joys, the relationships, and the truly great moments of Brás’ life. If you are a fan of graphic novels or have always wanted to try one, check this book out. Check our Catalog

This award-winning novel follows a middle-aged man as he is forced to contend with people and a past that he hasn’t thought of in many years.  We follow Tony Webster as a school boy, philosophizing with his chums and as he grows through a happy, then failed marriage.  This short novel is packed with mystery and emotion.  Check Our Catalog



Jan 20, 2012 by jimj

From April to August since 2002 Connors has parked himself in a Depression-era lookout tower on the top of 10,000 foot Apache Peak in the "epicenter of American wildfire", New Mexico's Gila Wilderness. As a employee of the U.S. Fire Circus his duties are spare: report the weather, answer the radio, relay messages, and "call in new smokes." But the life of an lyrically observant lookout (motto: "Every day spent in a lookout is a day not subtracted from the sum of one's life.") is far from boring. Connors weaves social and natural history, gentle environmentalism, and poetic reflections generated by long stretches of solitude into a Thoreau-esque narrative spanning a single fire season. With a fine eye for detail Connor's voice is often lyrical and never far from gentle irony. This is nature writing at its finest. Check Our Catalog

Jan 13, 2012 by jimj

In this Dickensian tale Jaffy, a fearless street urchin, is almost eaten by a Bengal tiger. Saved by the titular Jamrach, a jovial dealer in exotic animals who, impressed by his fearlessnes, hires him as a trainer, Jaffy meets slick talking Tim, another Jamrach protege, and his twin sister Ishbel. Tim and Jaffy become best friends. Which does not mean that their relationship is uncomplicated. The fact that Jaffy's heart is captured by Ishbel makes that a given. This beautifully written tale is populated with a host of curious, well-drawn characters, a vivid late-19th-century background and plenty of mystery. A whaling expedition hosts a quest to acquire a quasi-mythical (Komodo) dragon. And with its capture adventure (and escape) turns to survival. Characters come of age under horrifying circumstances. Love is lost. And found. A remarkable tale. Check Our Catalog

Jan 13, 2012 by jimj

A rollicking, fast paced, less-than-reverent but scrupulously researched romp through two millenniums of popes. The cast is vast: 265 men (a very entertaining chapter explores the dubious possibility of a ninth century female Pope Joan) not to mention various antipopes. A few popes bring marvelous diplomatic and ecclesiastical skills to the task. Leo I keeps the Huns at bay and saves Rome from destruction. Scholarly Benedict XIV delicately keeps the 18th century peace and reforms the Holy See. But this travelogue really soars when Norwich addresses the vast majority of immoral, debauched, cruel, petty and incompetent occupiers of the throne. In a chapter titled "Nicholas I and the Pornocracy" Norwich wades through a swamp of ninth century ecclesiastical sexual misconduct. It's a truism that sinners are much more entertaining than saints and there are plenty of the former in this tale. Who says history can't be fun! Check Our Catalog

This is Nesbo’s sixth book to be translated into English starring Inspector Harry Hole.  I have been hooked since his first.  The Leopard finds Hole hiding out in Asia trying to avoid and forget his most recent dealings with murder and serial killers in Norway.  Hole is coerced back to Oslo to face yet another daunting investigative challenge.  Nesbo’s rough around the edges hero and bleak Norwegian environs make for excellent reads.  Check Our Catalog



Published in 2010, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain’s death, this autobiography was a major literary event.  At times during this first volume, there were a lot of starts and stops;  with the editors presents Twain’s many abandoned attempts at writing an autobiography.  Once you get to the meat of things however, you can fully appreciate the great storyteller at his best.  Twain’s descriptions of events, locations, friends and foes are hilarious and enjoyable.  Check Our Catalog

Local author Andrew Krivak tells the story Jozef Vinich, who begins life in a bleak 19th century Colorado mining town, only to end up fighting for the Kaiser in World War One.  Krivak’s debut novel offers the story of a man returning to the roots of his ancestors, finding new family along the way, only to have the horrors of war disrupt all that he had come to take for granted.  Krivak packs a lot of emotion into the rather small book.  Check Our Catalog



Dec 17, 2011 by megana

An exceptional crime novel by this Scottish writer, featuring detective inspector Alex Morrow of the Glasgow police. A disgraced millionaire financier hangs himself in London hours before a young woman is brutally murdered in a suburb of Glasgow. The reader knows the two events are related somehow but Alex must connect the dots while managing a tense work situation and her personal ties to some of the working class Glaswegians implicated in the murder. Check Our Catalog


© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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