:: Staff picks

Reading recommendations from library staff — the ultimate bookworms! Here is an eclectic list of books, old and new, fiction and nonfiction, that we have loved and would recommend.

The Religion

By Tim Willocks

The siege of the island of Malta in 1565 by Turkish invaders is the backdrop for this swashbuckling tale. A rich, almost visual text weaves the story of a heroic warrior hired by a countess to locate her young son on the embattled island. Drawn into the story by its non-stop action, readers will witness history populated by the Knights Hospitaller, the Inquisition, and the Muslim empire of Suleimann the Magnificent. For those who enjoy historical fiction, this book is a fascinating read. The author plans The Religion to be the first of a trilogy.


Animal Vegetable Miracle

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

Death is the narrator in this unusual and memorable story of Liesel Meminger, a German child sent to foster care near Dachau during World War II. Loss is a large part of Liesel’s life, and she tries to cope by stealing books. (Young Adult)

Animal Vegetable Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

by Barbara Kingsolver

Leaving Tucson for the family farm in southern Appalachia, Kingsolver and her family vow to eat only what they can raise themselves or buy locally. This thoughtful recounting of a year of mindful eating makes it clear that we are what we eat. Imbued with Kingsolver’s wonderful storytelling skills, this work of nonfiction is as satisfying as a summer tomato. A great companion read to Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

A Northern Light

A Northern Light

By Jennifer Donnelly

Striking imagery and strong writing fuel this powerful look at a young woman’s coming of age in turn-of-the-century rural New York. Mattie’s family wants her to be a farm wife, while she wants to be a writer and attend college. A nearby murder at a wealthy hotel further complicates matters. Based on a true story, the murder made national headlines when a wealthy young man lured a poor young lady to the country, where she mysteriously drowns. The murder also inspired Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. (Young Adult)

For One More Day

For One More Day

By Mitch Albom
After attempting suicide, Charlie reflects on his mother's past support, his own failings, and the events of a confusing present in which he relishes his mother's care and sees his own life clearly for the first time.

Alice, I Think

Alice, I Think

By Susan Juby
A hilarious insight into the mind of a free-thinking yet confused teenager growing up in small town Canada. From her hobbit costume to her therapist who receives more therapy than he gives, this is an entertaining read with sequels. (Young Adult)

Shattering Glass

Shattering Glass

By Gail Giles

What happens when a Cinderella story goes bad? Rob, the charismatic leader of the senior class, attempts to take the class nerd and turn him into Mr. Popularity. The violent result is a disturbing yet intriguing look into the world of high school society.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

Walls, her brother and two sisters are left up to their own devices while their dysfunctional parents follow a nomadic existence, eventually landing the family on the streets.  While many of the situations could be categorized as abusive or neglectful, Walls respects her parents knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them is evident.

Generation Debt

Generation Debt

by Anna Kamenetz

Debt got you down? After speaking with thousands of college grads, Kamenetz writes a thought-provoking book that will appeal to anyone who has encountered credit card or school debt. After a thorough analysis, Kamenetz offers thoughtful solutions that are easily implemented.

Around the House and in the Garden

Around the House and in the Garden

by Dominique Browning

In these elegant essays, Browning muses on the aspects of domestic life that revived her and shows how she healed her heart and her home at the same time.

Bless the Beasts and Children

Bless the Beasts and Children

Glendon Swarthout

The cast-away offspring of parents busy traveling, being divorced, remarrying, and garnering fortunes are sent off to camp. Led by the strong-willed Cotton, the boys lowest on the totem pole embark on the most memorable summer of their young lives. (Young Adult)

I am the messenger

I am the Messenger

Zuzak, Markus

A young man's strange journey into self-discovery that starts with the mysterious delivery of messages on playing cards that direct him to help complete strangers. (Young Adult)

Crows over a Wheatfield

Crows over a Wheatfield

Sharp, Paula

Sharp tackles domestic violence with the legal expertise gleaned from her career as a criminal attorney. Despite the serious subject, she splendidly realizes her characters with insight and humor.

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants

Gruen, Sara

With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds in a traveling circus during the Great Depression.

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