Staff Book Picks

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Not intellectual fare, but wonderful fun and distraction and a great way to recontextualize whatever you're dealing with lately.  "You think you have problems?"  Cannell's recurring hero Shane Scully is up against an evildoer you can picture easily enough in your mind, a lurid "Reality TV star" whose mission in life seems to make life miserable for police.  One measure of a well written story is the solutions you think you have drawn as you move toward the conclusion, telling yourself how good it will feel, and how vindicated you as reader will be, when it turns out you had already solved the mystery.  Then you find out... well, no spoilers here, just a suggestion that if you like a really fast and fast-moving read, this is a good one.  Check Our Catalog

Dec 18, 2012 by deirdres

This book is about the effect a morbidly obese obsessive-compulsive eater has on her family.  It's true that matriarch Edie's non-stop consumption weighs heavily on her family, but so does her impending divorce from husband of 30-something years, Richard.  We get everyone's point of view. Pharmacist Richard who just wants to have sex again before he dies.   Schoolteacher daughter Robin who is forced to spend more time in the hated suburbs tending to her mother, son Benny and daughter-in-law Rachelle whose family in thrown into its own upheaval because of Rachelle's fear of them all ending up like Edie,  and several other relatives and friends of the Middlesteins.

The reader is taken through the years with the Middlesteins during important turning points in their relationships and the daily annoyances that build up to crushing anger. Attenberg has a way of conjuring up a distinct feeling in a few words.  My favorite being:  "Robin looked at Daniel and had the meanest thought of her entire life.  He'll do."   It's well worth reading. Check Our Catalog

The world is going to end, it is just a matter of time.  In The Last Policeman, they know when and they don’t have too long.  In a world threatened by an impending asteroid strike, Detective Hank Palace might just be the last working policeman.  Crime is on the rise, but who wants to waste the effort bringing criminals to justice, when the asteroid will bring its own.  Palace sets about solving a murder in this first of an anticipated trilogy.  The investigation won’t be easy since the murder looks like a suicide, and those have become all too prevalent with disaster so near.  Check Our Catalog

Dec 6, 2012 by megana

The subtitle of this book is "Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer". The author describes the latest research on physical fitness in a very readable and engaging way and addresses lots of exercise myths about stretching (before cardio? after cardio? never?), exercise and weight loss, how long and how often to work out depending on your own goals, and more. Reynolds writes a fitness column for the New York Times and she is adept at making physiology, biology and neurology make sense for the lay person. It's also fascinating to read about the creative ways researchers structure human and animal studies to test various fitness theories. How would you get a lab rat to lift weights? This book is not just for fitness buffs, but anyone who cares about their health and longevity. Whether you read the whole book cover to cover or just the chapters that address your personal questions, you will be motivated to stand up and get moving--immediately! Check Our Catalog

Dec 5, 2012 by julier

Ina Garten's cookbooks are always gorgeous to look at and chatty reads. She heads all of her recipes with a short paragraph about where the recipe came from or why she created it.  So far I've only made one recipe, Salted Caramel Brownies, and it was a hit at Thanksgiving.  Foolproof is a good name for this book; all of the recipes are well written and I wouldn't have a moment's hesitation in making any of them for the first time for company. I'll be making the  Mustard and Gruyere Batons for an upcoming party and there are a couple of soup recipes I'd like to try soon. Check Our Catalog

Dec 3, 2012 by megana

Born to a single mother and adopted by Pentecostal parents, acclaimed British novelist Jeanette Winterson's childhood was extraordinary by any measure.  In this raw, fiercely honest and deeply affecting memoir, she remembers growing up with a monstrous mother and a passive father in a very specific time and place: the 1960s and 1970s in the small North England industrial town of Accrington, where some of the poorer children brought dog biscuits to school for their mid-day meal and everyone Jeanette knew was as skinny as a ferret. Because reading books was deemed dangerous (only the Bible was allowed at home), Jeanette discovered English Literature A-Z at the local public library and hid books under her mattress. With exquisite prose, she delves deeply into matters of human love, loss and identity, and shows how stories and poetry can guide and save us when we are suffering. Check Our Catalog

Nov 29, 2012 by julier

The latest William Monk mystery follows the well established pattern of an early arrest but with lingering questions and a scramble for more information during trial.  With these books I find I'm not so much concerned with "whodunnit" as I am with the background history of the time period.  This story deals with early pharmacy reform and the the use, abuse and increasing addiction to opium in the 1860s.  I always enjoy Anne Perry's stories for their period detail. Check Our Catalog

Nov 29, 2012 by dorothyc

Ditch the chilly, gray, wet weather for a castle on the Italian Riviera. A group of four very different women do just that in Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April. Each woman experiences the happiness and freedom that come with leaving your everyday worries behind for days spent exploring nature and soaking up sunshine. A beautiful novel and the perfect escape for a wintry night. Check Our Catalog

In this breathtaking sequel to Kepler’s The Hypnotist, we find Swedish detective Joona Linna investigating the mysterious murder of a young woman.  The story switches between a terrifying chase scene played out over semi deserted islands, and the political intrigue of international arms deals.  Linna at times comes off as larger than life, but you want to know what he is doing and thinking.  Follow Loona and his colorful cast of heroes and villains in this excellent sequel.  Check Our Catalog

Celebrated American author Philip Roth has announced his retirement from fiction writing. He may also be retiring from the public spotlight as he gave his last interview, published in Sunday's New York Times. Roth has written 31 books since bursting onto the scene with "Goodbye, Columbus" in 1959. Some of his most notable books include: "Sabbath's Theater", "American Pastoral", "The Human Stain", and "The Plot Against America". He has won countless awards in his career, including two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle awards, multiple PEN/Faulkner Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize. Read his last interview, or enjoy one of his books.

The winners of this year's National Book Awards were announced on Wednesday night. Local poet, David Ferry of Brookline won this year's award for Poetry with his collection 'Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations'. Louise Erdrich's 'The Round House' won for best novel. This story of racial injustice that takes place on a reservation in North Dakota beat out some stiff competition. Katherine Boo's story of the poverty in the shadow of India's luxury hotels, 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity', won the non fiction award. Read more about these and the rest of the awards at

This is the story of a terrifying, yet compelling London hood and his nephew, who is trying to create a new life, free of his very heavy family baggage.  Amis creates fantastic dialogue for his characters and the language is brilliant.  Reader beware, however, this book shows glimpses of the seedier side of both the London underworld and complicated families.  Jump on board for quite the uproarious ride.  Check Our Catalog

Nov 13, 2012 by deirdres

I've wanted to read this book ever since I first saw the cover and it was just as good, better even, then I thought it would be based on that skimpy criteria.  This is the kind of book I love.  Lots of intertwined characters jumping  back and forth through time from 1960's Italy to present day Hollywood.   It begins on the coast of Italy at the Hotel Adequate View as the proprietor Pasquale's life is changed by the arrival of beautiful American actress, Dee Moray, who is in Italy to film Cleopatra.  What follows are stories of love in many incarnations involving the friends and relations of Pasquale and Dee, including Richard Burton who is amusingly portrayed as an boozy narcissist. Check Our Catalog

Duncan’s new novel picks up on the threads of the romantic entanglements of now deceased werewolf Jake Marlowe. His love, Talulla Demetriou, has survived the hunt described at the end of ‘The Last Werewolf’. Talulla is now coming to terms with being a werewolf, possibly the only one left. As she struggles with her new identity, the same forces that were after Jake now are coming after her. Will she survive?  Check Our Catalog

Oct 31, 2012 by julier

A different kind of mystery.  Billy Webb, a recent college grad, gets his first job as an editor for a dictionary publisher located in a small town in western Massachusetts.  From the details it is obvious the author has worked as a lexicographer herself.  Researching the word "editrix" in the enormous citation file that includes snippets from books and magazines showing words in use, Billy and co-worker Mona come across a quotation from a novel entitled The Broken Teaglass that appears to be set in their office.  Intrigued, they try to track the book down only to find that it appears the book was never published so they begin looking for more citations in the files.  Word by word they begin to piece together a very odd murder mystery.   For a mystery the book is slow paced and measured. The layering of the story within the story will have you flipping back to check on details that seemed insignificant on first appearance. Check Our Catalog

This one is for the soccer buffs out there. Wilson provides an exhaustive history of soccer tactics, from the game’s beginning up to present day shifts in paradigms.  Taking us from muddy British fields, to behind the Iron Curtain, and into the heart of South American jungles, Wilson shows how the thinking about the game has developed. A great read for soccer fans, who crave to know why things are the way they are.  Check Our Catalog

Oct 24, 2012 by megana

Chef Jeremy Papier struggles to keep his first restaurant afloat in between visits to his anthropologist father, who is living with and researching the homeless residents of Vancouver B.C.'s 1,000-acre Stanley Park. In his day job, Jeremy negotiates with a profit-driven corporate financier in the city and creates radical cuisine menus for the diners at The Monkey's Paw Bistro. During his few off-hours, he glimpses the unseen lives of the Stanley Park denizens and applies his French cooking school training to the preparation of wild squirrels and starlings over a campfire.  The novel climaxes when his two lives come together in the suspenseful opening night gala of his new upscale restaurant, Gerriamo's. Woven into the story is an exploration of a 40-year-old unsolved murder case involving two young children whose bodies were discovered deep in the Stanley Park woods. This funny, thoughtful, and satisfying story mocks modern "foodies" and global corporate culture while exploring the real meaning of family, tradition, culinary roots, and a deep sense of place. Check Our Catalog

In this sequel to the religious conspiracy novel ‘Sanctus,’ we pick up where we left off. Liv Adamsen has survived an explosion in the Citadel, but doesn’t have any memory about how she got into the sacred fortress, or how she got out. Now her fellow survivors are mysteriously dying, one by one. She appears to be next. We follow Adamsen’s story as she tries to discover her relationship to the sacred mysteries of the Citadel, and what the future has in store for her.  Check Our Catalog

Oct 9, 2012 by megana

Someone is playing strange and nasty pranks on the citizens of Elvestad, and Inspector Konrad Sejer is called in to investigate. What begins as unnverving (one elderly woman reads her own obituary in the newspaper, and a dying man answers the door to find the hearse has arrived to pick him up) becomes increasingly sinister as the novel progresses. Fossum examines the impact of evil on the human mind in this psychological thriller--and provides no comforting conclusion. Another standout book from this Scandinavian author (try The Indian Bride as well). Check Our Catalog

Oct 3, 2012 by megana

90-year-old Hagar Shipley is increasingly frail and forgetful but still fiercely herself as she looks back on a tumultuous life and forward to what's left of it. Proud, prickly and strong-willed, Hagar came of age in the Manitoba prairies before the turn of the 19th century, struggling to assert herself in an era of limited choices for women. Along the way, she loses her mother and both her brothers, marries "beneath" her and against her father's wishes, raises two sons and loses one, and faces the end of her life unrepentant. Whether you are 30-something, 50-something or 80-something, you will be moved by this unfolding portrait of a formidable and flawed woman. Check Our Catalog

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