Staff Picks

Yes, we work with books.  But we also love reading them!  Here are the books we've been reading recently, and what we have to say about them (last updated: March, 2013 ). The book summaries are taken from our catalog. Also, check out the archives for even more staff picks.

  • Family of Secrets
    by Russ Baker

    Hope says: I was amazed and oohed and aahed through much of this book! Like a CIA operative, I was finding out all sorts of things buried under levels and levels of family, history, politics and relationships. The author gives factoids and coincidental happenings and leads the reader down the road of political intrigue and innuendo.

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  • American Wasteland
    by Jonathan Bloom

    Ken says: This book covers food waste from every possible angle. You’ll be astonished and inspired to think about food differently than you do now.

    Summary: What Tom Vanderbilt did for traffic and Brian Wansink did for mindless eating, Jonathan Bloom does for food waste.

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  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers
    by Katherine Boo

    Joseph says: I would recommend this book to anyone. It’s nonfiction, but it reads almost like fiction. The narrative is extremely engaging and powerful, and provides ample food-for-thought. I could hardly put it down.

    Summary: From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.

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  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
    by Alan Bradley

    Merle says: Eleven year old Flavia de Luce is part Miss Marple, part Sherlock Holmes and completely original. When her father is suspected of murder Flavia is on the case much to the annoyance of the police. This is the first book in a series of five.

    Summary: Flavia, an 11-year-old with a chemistry lab, finds a corpse in a cucumber patch and applies the detective skills she learned plotting against her older sisters. This debut mystery by a Canadian author won the 2007 Crime Writer Association’s Debut Dagger Award.

  • The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood
    by James Gleick

    Jimmy says: Information is everywhere, but only with written language did we first figure out how to capture it like a fly in amber. But in the last hundred years, these advances have been exponentially dizzying. Gleick talks about the wild world of abstraction, calculating machines (steam-punk style), genetic information, quantum uncertainty, and much more. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a scientist to understand or learn from this entertaining science book.

    Summary: James Gleick, the author of the best sellers Chaos and Genius, now brings us a work just as astonishing and masterly:

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  • The End of the Affair
    by Graham Greene

    Dan says: Carnal love vs. divine love in London World War II, Sarah must choose between her lover, Maurice Bendrix, and her newly found Catholic faith and coincidental miracles. The book has many twists and crescendos that leave you breathless and perhaps a little more spiritual.

    Summary: The novelist Maurice Bendrix’s love affair with his friend’s wife, Sarah, had begun in London during the Blitz.

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  • Great North Road
    by Peter F. Hamilton

    Jesse says: In Great North Road, Hamilton once again serves up an epic mix of detective fiction and sci-fi that is sure to please old fans and win him some new ones. Compelling characters, fascinating xenobiology, and a page-turning murder mystery make this my favorite read of the year thus far.

    Summary: Bestselling author Hamilton’s riveting new thriller combines the nail-biting suspense of a serial-killer investigation with clear-eyed scientific and social extrapolation to create a future that seems not merely plausible but inevitable.

  • A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    Jennifer says: I am a big fan of Joshilyn’s distinct blend of mystery and humor which is perfectly seasoned with a giant passel of southern charm. This novel didn’t disappoint! I listened to this book and consider it a bonus that Joshilyn reads her own audiobooks. She has an enchanting voice that brings her books to life, this one included, like nobody else.

    Summary: Every fifteen years, trouble comes after the Slocumb women.

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  • Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
    by Anne Lamott

    Alice says: A short read for the spiritually inclined full of affirmation that it’s ok to be a seeker your whole life. Parts made me laugh out loud. Parts were echoes of my own voice. A book to share.

    Summary: Three simple prayers to get you through tough times, everyday struggles, and the hard work of ordinary life.

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  • Every Day
    by David Levithan

    Nancy says: I picked this book up because the premise reminded me of the early 90s TV show Quantum Leap. David Levithan, a young adult author, has an excellent ability to tell really great stories that also appeal to adults and this love story about a teenage boy who wakes up every morning in a different body does not disappoint. 

    Summary: Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life.

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  • Wolf Hall
    by Hilary Mantel

    Elisabeth says: This is probably one of the most engrossing historical fiction novels I’ve come across. I am less familiar with English history but once I was able to keep all theThomases and Williamses straight, I found it a wonderful insight into Tudor England and the writing is brilliant! I can’t wait to read Bringing Up the Bodies (her second in a planned trilogy).

    Summary: England in the 1520’s is a heartbeat from disaster.

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  • Warm Bodies
    by Isaac Marion

    Kimberly says: Yes, it’s a movie now, but this is a great book about the existential crisis faced by a zombie in a post-apocalyptic world. Not only is it a zombie book, it’s a musing on what makes us who we are, and a love story—it’s got it all!

    Summary: A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

  • Forgotten
    by Catherine McKenzie

    Jencey says: This book is totally unforgettable. The pages turned themselves. I was completely interested in what the main character Emma was going through. The book asks a very interesting question. What would happen if you were suddenly absent from your life for six months?

    Summary: Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future.

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  • Eight Girls Taking Pictures
    by Whitney Otto

    Sarah says: This novel tells the loosely-connected stories of eight female photographers throughout the 20th century. I especially loved how well this book explored the tensions that women are often faced with, such as choosing between a career and family, and the choices that each woman ultimately made.

    Summary: Bestselling author Whitney Otto’s Eight Girls Taking Pictures is a profoundly moving portrayal of the lives of women,

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  • Wonder
    by R.J. Palacio

    Mia says: Fall in love with a most unusual character, August Pullman, both courageous and spirited. He is also a fifth grader suffering from facial abnormalities. This book tugs at your heart strings, in a good way, and reminds you of the power of kindness. Auggie’sface is one that causes people to stare.

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  • Deep Blues
    by Robert Palmer

    Scot says: This is an exceptional, exceptionally readable account of the birth and evolution of the blues. Author Robert Palmer served as the chief pop music critic at the New York Times for much of the 1980s, and his writing here is academic, yet lucid; educational, yet entertaining.

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  • In the Shadow of the Banyan
    by Vaddey Ratner

    Rebekah says: A lyrical autobiographical novel set in Cambodia during the socialist revolution, the background of the book recounts how the Khmer Rouge broke apart families, destroyed culture, and instigated constant chaos and fear. A young child at the time, Raani recounts her memories of her struggle to survive, details the loss of her innocence, and the building of her character.

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