The Best Books of 2019

With the year rapidly drawing to a close, it is time to reflect on the past year. Here at the library, of course, that means talking about all the great books we have read. Our full list of recommendations (including fiction, non-fiction, young adult and children’s books) has already been released, but some of us can’t help but want to tell you more. Here are a few select reviews from our best of list written by our dedicated and always reading staff.

Alan:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

From one of the best mystery writers of our time, the modern Agatha Christie, comes a suspense-filled epistolary tale of a nanny hired at a posh, remote estate in the Scottish Highlands. Idyllic until things take a turn for the darker. In a series of letters to an attorney, the facts of the case are revealed as our narrator unravels, and we wonder how reliable she is…

Chaz:

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

The solution to information overload is to be mindful with how and why you interact and engage with technology. Does it serve your essential and personal goals?  Can you achieve the same result without using the technology? Cal Newport explores a philosophy of digital minimalism that fits this time of life.

I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

How much time do you spend learning about money? 10 hours? 1 hour? None? Actively avoid thinking about it? The title may seem off-putting, as if it were some kind of get-rich-quick scheme, but on the contrary, Ramit teaches the long game of growing wealth over time. This requires taking an honest look at your finances and spending habits, and making a clear budget for money to have fun with (guilt free!). Where is the motivation in saving money for 40 years if you can’t enjoy some of it in the meantime?  Ramit provides a simple framework for understanding where you’re at with money, both mentally and financially. He shows how you should focus your resources to maximize debt reduction and wealth creation.  Through the book, you grow your self-understanding and are able to make a plan that will lead you confidently into the future.

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

There are many dozens of definitions for distraction, but Nir Eyal has got to have one of the most useful ones. He says that a distraction is anything that keeps you from fulfilling your word. This book is a manual for empowerment- teaching the importance of honoring your word and with this, growing respect for yourself. Did I say that I can peruse Instagram, or did I already commit to working in the garden Saturday morning? Nir provides a simple method for self-empowerment with many examples and situations to draw from.

Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller

Is Dave Ramsey the best personal finance expert in the world? Probably not, so why is he the most successful? It’s because he has the clearest message: financial peace. Donald Miller explores the 7 elements that make up a story and how businesses can clarify their message and invite customers into the story. The business is the guide – the customer is the hero. What is the story?

Eileen:

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Arthur believes in romance and signs from the universe. When his heart skips a beat at the sight of Ben at the post office and then a magical flash mob proposal breaks out, he believes. Ben, however, does not believe in signs. The box of items he’s mailing back to his ex is clear evidence that the universe has nothing for him. But what if there’s more to the universe than both of them see?

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Fifteen year old Will knows the rules: no crying, no snitching, and it’s up to him to avenge his brother’s murder. With a gun shoved in his waistband, he takes the elevator from the seventh floor to fulfill his role. But the elevator door opens on the sixth floor, and in walks a dead man.

Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow

Aisulu’s dream of eagle hunting goes against the Kazakh tradition that restricts training to men. When her parents take her ill brother to a distant hospital, she’s left with a strange aunt and uncle- and an orphaned eagle to rescue.

Linda (click on the links to Linda’s review for each title):

The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Lisa:

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of those books that you cruise through in a couple reads because it is just that hard to put down. Imagine if Cinderella was set in rural Jazz Age Mexico, only instead of a benevolent fairy godmother, it is the deposed Mayan god of death who changes our young heroine’s life. Instead of being carried away in a beautiful enchanted pumpkin carriage, she is bound to the former lord of the underworld when a sliver of his bone embeds in her hand and her blood reanimates his corpse. Far from being a maiden needing to be rescued, our heroine, Casiopea Tun must not only save herself, but save the entire world from falling into a new age of darkness on Earth should she fail to defeat the schemes of the reigning god of death, Vucub-Kame. I hope you enjoy this amazing mix of Maya folklore, Mexican culture, drama, and historical fiction, as much as I did.

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman is an incredible work of historical research and non-fiction writing. Hartman is able to strike a satisfying balance between heavily-footnoted academic, and very personal and engaging narrative writing styles. The personal stories and photographs used illustrate in a very relatable way, what life was like for Black women in Philadelphia and New York City at the turn of the century. Each chapter is a revelation that challenges what we commonly believe about Victorian life, and the way that women were allowed to move about their worlds. Hartman uses expert research and storytelling skills to give voices to women who were only brief news stories, or even nameless photographs in the historical record. These histories are often overlooked but should never be undervalued in terms of what they can tell us about the history of women’s rights, the struggles Black women faced during the Great Migration, and the wide variety of ways that Black urban women were making lives for themselves during a very turbulent time. I found myself having to re-read pages to make sure I didn’t miss a single detail

Margo:

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

I loved this story. My 83-year-old mom loved this story! It made me laugh and it made me cry.

Quoting from a New York Times Book Review author Mary Beth Keane states “No one ever plans to become estranged.” This profound truth sets the stage for a thought-provoking novel delving into how one deals with injustice, pain, and deception especially when it happens in your own family.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope meet each other on the job in the NYPD. The young rookie cops work at a precinct in the Bronx. Francis meets and falls in love with Lena. Wanting to raise a family, the couple moves out of the city and into the suburbs. Several years later the Stanhope family move in next store, but there is a breach of some sort. Brian’s wife Anne is standoffish. The relationship that buds, however, is between Gleeson’s youngest daughter Kate and Stanhope’s only child Peter. Kate and Peter become best friends.

Set in the 1970’s when mental illness and addiction were subjects rarely discussed, Keane paints a portrait of two very different families with Irish Catholic roots whose lives become entwined. Layered with complex characters, a story of love, sorrow, tragedy, and ultimately, forgiveness unfolds.

Transcending time and generation, the story is timely and relevant. In an age where offenses are taken, and misunderstandings fueled by bitterness lead to many broken relationships, Ask Again, Ask offers hope.

Mindy:

Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg

In many ways, this is a familiar story about a woman struggling to balance her photography career and creative ambition as a single mother. However, the storytelling is completely original, as it unfolds in the form of a photography exhibit catalog curated by the woman’s daughter. The imagery is so vivid that you almost feel like you’re seeing the photographs instead of words on a page.

Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer

Flight Portfolio is the fictionalized story of Varian Fry, a real historical figure who covertly rescued countless Jewish artists and their works from the Nazis. I’m not usually a big reader of historical fiction, but I’m a big fan of this author and her richly imagined characters and exquisite writing.

Susan:

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

I adored this book! It starts strong and remains strong to the very end. This is magical realism in a small southern town in the vein of Sarah Addison Allen but with a charm all its own. Sarah Dove is the seventh daughter of the Dove family, an old family in town whose daughters all have magic. Sarah’s magic is that books talk to her, telling her which person in town needs to read them. As the town librarian, she makes sure each book gets to the right person. Such a lovely idea! Sadly, her beloved small town of Dove Pond is failing. The population is dwindling, they have no jobs for the young people, and most of the downtown storefronts are vacant. People are worried. Luckily, the town lore is that whenever the Dove family has seven daughters something good happens for the town. As a seventh daughter, Sarah has always thought she would save the town, but she has no idea how to do that. Then Grace Wheeler, broke and with crushing family responsibilities, comes to town and Sarah realizes that it is her job to befriend Grace and help Grace save the town. This is a lovely novel of friendship, family, belonging and finding home.

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

The serial killer isn’t on trial. He’s on the jury. That’s the premise for this totally original legal thriller by Irish author Steve Cavanagh. What’s the best way to get away with murder? Have someone else convicted of the crime. What’s the best way to have someone else convicted of the crime? Make sure you (the killer) are on the jury! I’m a big fan of this author, and this is his best legal thriller yet.

Theresa:

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

They say one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but an interesting title always attracts me. The title of Anissa Gray’s debut novel grabbed my attention and her writing held it. The book begins with the stunning arrest of Althea and Proctor, a well-respected couple in their community. As her sisters struggle with their disbelief at the arrest of their eldest sister, and with caring for their nieces, what happened and how is revealed through the separate stories of those involved. This is primarily a character driven novel, with a dash of mystery on the side.

 

Best of 2017: Books for Adults

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas on the near horizon, it is time for the ‘Best of 2017’ lists to begin. We here at the library are not immune to wanting to get all of our favorites from the year listed and out to you. And you can bet we have a lot to share. So much so that we will be dividing up our recommendations into four posts, starting with our recommendations for 2017’s best in Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction and Graphic novels. If you want to check out the whole list, definitely take a look at the Library Newsletter.

Adult Fiction

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

Kate, whose lifelong anxiety is compounded by a traumatic event, bravely switches apartments with her cousin– he moves to London and she to Boston. Right away a neighbor disappears, and this time Kate is right when she imagines the worst.

While not my usual fare, I really enjoyed flying through this page-turner of a story. With its suspenseful elements of “Rear Window” and a strong visual sense of place, I’d love to see this made into a movie!  –Elizabeth

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

When elderly author Gil thinks he sees his presumed-dead wife Ingrid, he falls and injures himself. The action takes off when Gil’s daughters arrive to take care of him, alternating between Ingrid’s story and the present-day family dynamics.

I loved Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days. While not as intense, this new work proves the author’s ability. The gradual reveal of the mystery of Ingrid’s disappearance kept me guessing to the end and beyond. Loved the setting, too!  –Elizabeth

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Emma and Jane each rent a home from an enigmatic and stringent architect whose rules and designs are meant to transform the tenants. Their stories unfold through suspenseful, short chapters alternating between the two women—one alive, and the other dead.

I like a fast-paced whodunit. Some sections were a bit graphic for my taste, but I couldn’t put it down!  –Margo

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Less is more, unless your name is Arthur Less, and then less is never enough! He travels all over the world trying to change his luck and forget his past. But fate has other plans for Arthur.

I loved this book because Arthur was so hopelessly loveable, even though he’s convinced that he’s unlovable.  –Linda

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

A publisher and editor are reading the newest submission from famous author Alan Conway in his “Atticus Pünd” series. Then they realize the last chapter is missing. Before they have a chance to ask him where it is, Alan commits suicide. Or does he?

What a fun book! Magpie Murders is a mystery within a mystery—a really challenging whodunit!  –Linda

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

A mother’s hurried choice of a nanny for her toddler results in multiple complications. Art, privilege, motherhood, love, and seriously dysfunctional relationships thrive in Lepucki’s second novel, which is nothing like her first, California.

Having gone to art school myself, I enjoyed the bizarre art project that the nanny contrives to undertake right under the nose of the mother. The added touches of Twitter addiction, selective mutism, and reckless behavior make this an entertaining read.  –Elizabeth

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

Samuel Hawley, scarred from 12 bullet wounds, has lived a life of crime about which his daughter, Loo, knows nothing. Gradually, the story behind each of those bullets is revealed, along with the truth about Loo’s mother’s death.

Despite the violence of Hawley’s former life he fiercely loves and protects Loo. This dichotomy between despicable behavior and tenderhearted parenting makes this an endlessly intriguing story, full of intensity and complexity. I loved it!  –Elizabeth

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

Edgar is a quirky 8-year-old struggling to find his place. His dad is dead, his mother is a messed up partier, and his loving grandmother just died. When a strange man treats Edgar with kindness, he makes the grave mistake of getting pulled under his spell.

Seriously flawed characters galore here, but you can’t help but empathize with each one and even understand their crazy actions. Suspenseful, full of twists and turns—it keeps you guessing!  –Elizabeth

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Seven tales of middle-aged guys and the women they’ve known, loved, used, and lost. One is starving from unrequited love. Another hears about his lover’s former life as an eel. One wakes up as a Gregor Samsa, a man after having been a cockroach.

It’s hard to put into words why I love Murakami’s work. It’s a sort of intense introspective wonder about people, relationships, and the world in general. I loved the incredible details of these stories, and didn’t want any of them to end.  –Elizabeth

The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

Pearl Gibson works her way up to becoming the head maid for the wealthy and strong-willed Lady Ottoline Campbell. The two ladies’ lives intertwine over the years as they deal with love, loss, and secrets.

The Echo of Twilight is a sweeping story that is reminiscent of Downton Abbey. The descriptions of lush scenery, opulent surroundings, and interesting relationships between characters made for a fantastic read.  –Liz

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

This is the last installment in the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. Feyre learns how to use her powers and become a leader in order to try save those in the human realm as well as those in the Faerie realm.

I would describe this book as “Twilight for grown-ups.” It’s filled with action, romance, magic, and the supernatural.  –Liz

Amatka by Karin Tidbeck

In a world where nothing holds its shape unless labeled and named by humans over and over, Vanja travels to cold, dreary Amatka to study hygiene products for the government. Initially, she is a loyal servant but soon discovers all is not what it seems.

Amatka kept me fascinated from bizarre beginning to ambiguous end, which I hope hints at more to come from this debut Swedish author.  –Elizabeth


How to be Human
by Paula Cocozza

Mary, newly separated, barely keeping her head above water, with a tedious job and a ramshackle house, becomes enamored with a splendidly gorgeous wild fox. To Mary’s horror, the neighbors want to bring in an exterminator.

This strange storyline made me a bit worried at times, wondering what might happen. But I loved the buildup of tension and claustrophobia, and finally, Mary’s transformation.  –Elizabeth

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

A strange Victorian tale of small village fears and superstitions. Is there a monster lurking in the fog and mist of Colchester? Add in a forbidden love story, a tragic case of consumption, religion, science, and feminism, and the result is intriguing.

My son called this audiobook “overwrought,” but I loved performer Juanita McMahon’s voice. Plus, the main character Cora, who wears men’s clothes and tromps around in the bog studying nature, is certainly a woman ahead of her time.  –Elizabeth

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Told from a variety of perspectives, Mrs. Fletcher follows the misadventures of a 46-year-old divorcee and her son, as the son adapts to college and the mom adapts to an empty nest.

Perrotta (Little children, Election, and The Leftovers) returns with his first amusing, thought-provoking, character-driven novel in six years. As raunchy as it may be, it is far sweeter… and harder to put down.  –Alan

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The latest from the British mystery author of In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10—this is another terrific thriller regarding teen best friends who carry a deadly secret into adulthood.

Chock full of twists and stunningly styled, The Lying Game is thrillingly engaging, especially as an audiobook performed by the incomparable Imogen Church.  –Alan

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

In 1940s Italy, teenager Pino Lella joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps and falls for a beautiful widow. He also becomes the personal driver of one of the Third Reich’s most powerful commanders.

This is a “can’t put it down” book based on a true story. Totally loved it!  –Leslie

Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith

A paean both to the public library and the book, Scottish novelist Ali Smith’s latest book blends true words from library lovers with short stories suffused with her trademark magical realism.

This book serves as a kind of literary activism. While it is known that Smith writes so beautifully, her reading of the audiobook is what really recommends this inspiring work.  –Alan

Adult Non-Fiction

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

This book has recipes, decorating tips, and lifestyle advice about how the Danes incorporate hygge—meaning comfort or well-being—into their everyday lives, making them some of the happiest people in the world.

I really love all the information about making your home more comfortable and your lifestyle more relaxed in order to fully appreciate the important things in life such as family and friends.  –Liz

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying Yes to Living by Tim Bauerschmidt

Recently widowed nonagenerian Norma opts out of cancer treatment and goes on an adventure of a lifetime in an RV with her son, daughter-in-law, and a large poodle. This book chronicles their journey and shares the warmth, wisdom, and kindness they encountered every step of the way.

Driving Miss Norma teaches us to embrace life and adventure. We are never too old to try new things.  –Julie

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

A husband and wife team shares their personal story, from humble beginnings to their current careers as home improvement experts and television personalities.

These two have a remarkably strong relationship, four kids, work really hard in all aspects of life, and are amazing at home remodel and design. This is a fascinating story that reveals the couple behind the popular TV show, Fixer Upper–Margaret

Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Osage Indians in Oklahoma were among the wealthiest people in America in the 1920s, thanks to the discovery of oil beneath their land. And then, one by one, dozens of tribal members were murdered, as were the local law enforcement officials who dared investigate the killings. The fledgling FBI picked up the case and bungled it badly.

This is one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history and a very good read.  –Leslie

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? Acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson guides readers through these questions in this compact and contemplative guide to the cosmos.

Tyson brings the universe down to earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.  –Leslie

The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage by Jared Yates Sexton

Featuring in-the-field reports as well as deep analysis, Sexton’s book is a sobering chronicle of our polarization and a firsthand account of the 2016 presidential election and the cultural forces that powered Trump’s victory.

Sexton grapples with the lies, news, ugly debate, social media echo chambers…and tells us how we got here. One critic called it “A leftist counterweight to Hillbilly Elegy with shots of Hunter S. Thompson.”– Alan

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay delves into one of the most painful and deeply personal aspects of herself: her body. This is her story of how a major trauma from her adolescence played out and manifested itself through her body.

This book touches on an issue that almost every woman can relate to in our country. Gay’s honesty and vulnerability show the interrelatedness of trauma and disordered eating.  –Serena

‘Twas the Nightcap before Christmas by Katie Blackburn & Sholto Walker

A new version of an old tale—absolutely adorable and relatable! Any parents who have been up until the wee hours of Christmas Eve will wonder why it took until now for someone to write this. I loved it, and can’t wait to buy my own copy!

The story and artwork were both fun!  –Linda

Adult Graphic Novels

Motor Crush 01 by Brenden Fletcher

Domino Swift might be the best motorcycle racer alive, but her activity on the underground racing circuit is jeopardizing her official career. Domino’s real trouble begins when she finds herself battling a gang over a mysterious illegal engine stimulant.

The Road Rash-style motorcycle racing would have been enough to get my interest, but the futuristic setting along with a slight Overdrive vibe to the artwork adds a layer of depth to the storytelling and completes the experience.  –Zac

Savage Town by Declan Shalvey

Jimmy Savage is a small time gangster in Ireland struggling to keep his small empire together with threats from outside, as well as from within.

The authentic-sounding dialogue brings this story to life and makes it more than just another gangster story.  –Zac

Best of 2015: Nonfiction for Children and Adults

Today the Best of 2015 list continues with all things nonfiction for children and adults.

Children’s Nonfiction:

CNF1

Counting Lions by Katie Cotton

Larger-than-life black and white drawings are paired with poetic texts that reveal the ways in which endangered creatures- – including lions, elephants, giraffes, tigers, gorillas, penguins, Ethiopian wolves, macaws, turtles, and zebras- – live on Earth.

The drawn pictures are so realistic you believe they are photographs, and the words are mournful but with hope. This stunning book provides  information about 10 beautiful wild animals. -Andrea’s pick

The Lego Adventure Book. Vol. 3 Robots, Planes, Cities & More by Megan Rothrock

Unleash your imagination as you journey through the wide-ranging world of LEGO building. It is filled with bright visuals, step-by-step breakdowns of 40 models, and nearly 150 example models from the world’s best builders.

Whether you’re brand-new to LEGO or have been building for years, this book is sure to spark your imagination and motivate you to keep creating! -Leslie’s pick

Ultimate Weird but True! 3 by National Geographic Kids

A book with the latest discoveries, internet gems, urban legends, wacky myths, and tantalizing tidbits that are really true.

This is an amazing-looking book that’s so much fun kids can’t put it down. -Leslie’s pick

CNF2

Who Is Malala Yousafzai? by Dinah Brown

This book is part of the wildly popular biography series Who Is?, and now there are What Was? books also!

Kids like these books because they are good reads, and they are Accelerated Reader Books. -Leslie’s pick

Sally Ride: a Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space by Tam E. O’Shaughnessy

A biography of the famous astronaut drawing on personal and family photographs from her childhood, school days, college, life in the astronaut corps, and afterward.

This is an excellent primer, filled with rarely seen photographs and personal family stories of one of my personal heroes. -Carol’s pick

Adult Nonfiction:

ANF1

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

A collection of humorous essays on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits, and Black as cool.

I feel like Issa and I are at times the same person. She had a much more interesting childhood and upbringing, but we’re both total nerds who have just learned to finally own it and flaunt it! -Carol’s pick

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey

Young and bright civil servant Anna is gradually becoming sensitive to light and finally has to retreat to a room of complete darkness. The fact that she has so much to offer and such interest in life makes her situation all the more difficult to accept.

This book, and Anna’s anguish, jumped out and grabbed me the moment I started it. Her ability to make us feel what it is like to live in the dark, unable to experience life is exceptional, while her resourcefulness, strength and intelligence shine. -Elizabeth’s pick

The Perfection of the Paper Clip by James Ward

A history of office/school supplies!

I have a weakness for school supplies, and I have even been to the Pencil Museum in Keswick, England. The scent of the Pink Pearl eraser brings back fond memories for me as it does for the author of this fascinating look at stationary through the ages. -Julie’s pick

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

This is an impeccably researched and brilliantly written book about “two of the workingist boys” of turn of the century America.

It was fascinating to learn about the invention of motorized flight. -Leslie’s pick

ANF2

Fight Back with Joy: Celebrate More, Regret less. by Margaret Feinberg

Fighting back with Joy is not about having a good attitude or enough faith. Margaret candidly describes her battle with breast cancer and concludes that ”fighting with joy is without beginning or end” and “flows out of unsuspecting places.“

This was a refreshing read—, transparent, and encouraging. -Margo’s pick

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

It’s a heartfelt letter to Coates’ son, depicting what it’s like to be black in America. He outlines the history of slavery and how the country is still experiencing a major racial divide.

II now understand my white privilege better and realize some of the challenges of parenting black children in a society that can still be filled with hate. Toni Morrison raved about this book, calling it required reading. -Sarah’s pick

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Ronson explores how social media and the Internet have brought about something of a public shaming renaissance, and he explores the history of public shaming to show how it has changed with technology.

This book takes a more empathetic stance than you will find in the media channels it critiques. It’s a must read for Twitter users yet still approachable for non-tech users just interested in human behavior. -Zac’s pick

Best of 2013: Just the Facts (Non-Fiction)

We continue our best of 2013 series of posts today with our favorites in Non-Fiction. Enjoy these books concerning history, science, humor, politics, and much more.

nf1

Eminent Hipsters  |  Donald Fagen
The musician, songwriter, and cofounder of Steely Dan reveals the cultural figures and currents that shaped his artistic sensibility, as well as offering a look at his college days and a hilarious account of life on the road.

Covering everything from Jean Shepherd to jazz concerts to his own tour diary, Fagen writes with a wicked intelligence and wit. – Alan

The Boys in the Boat  |  Daniel James Brown
Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

This is a fantastic story of everyday fellows from the pacific northwest who overcame many strikes against them to prevail and win gold at the 1936 Olympics. – Leslie

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal  |  Mary Roach
In her trademark style, Mary Roach investigates the beginning, and end, of our food, addressing such questions as why crunchy food is so appealing, how much we can eat before our stomachs burst, and whether constipation killed Elvis.

This book is not only informative, but also really funny in parts. – Leslie

One Summer:  America, 1927  |  Bill Bryson
Bryson examines closely the events and personalities of the summer of 1927 when America’s story was one of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy.

Bryson is always entertaining and informative and this book is up there with his best. – Leslie

nf2

Humans of New York  |  Brandon Stanton
In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in his attempt to capture ordinary New Yorkers in the most extraordinary of moments

If you’re a fan of the blog, you will love this collection. – Leslie

I Am Malala  |  Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9, 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price.

This is an inspirational book written by an inspirational young woman. – Leslie

The Faithful Executioner  |   Joel F. Harrington
Based on the journal of Frantz Schmidt, a Nuremburg executioner who died in the early seventeenth century, this endlessly fascinating book explores not just the life of a professional killer but also the times in which he lived.

This was a surprisingly engrossing read that raised many interesting questions about social status, justice, and what it takes to survive in any given society. – Richard

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls  |  David Sedaris
From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler’s experiences. Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.

Sedaris writes for the New Yorker, but his writing—far from stuffy, is engaging and entertaining, and sometimes puts a spin on a topic when you least expect it. – Joyce

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Dad is Fat  |  Jim Gaffigan
Memoir. A stand-up comedian expresses the joys and horrors of life with his wife and five young children. It has been compared to Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood.

I love Gaffigan’s comedic style, and his routines always hint at the chaos he and his wife face living with 5 young kids in a 2-bedroom NYC apartment. Favorite quote: there is no difference between a 4-year-old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor. – Carol

The Time Between Dreams: How to Navigate Uncertainty in Your Life and Work  |  Carol A. Vecchio
With warmth, humor, and sincerity, Carol Vecchio provides a clear understanding of the natural cycles of change and guides us in defining our distinct needs and wants.

The book you’ll reach for whenever work and life changes have you seeking an inspiring transition plan. – Anita

Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Legendary Hotel of the Stars–Chateau Marmont  |  Raymond Sarlot, Fred E. Basten
From its perch overlooking the Sunset Strip, the glamorous Marmont reigned for decades as the spot for artists, writers, musicians, and actors of every stripe and remains a home-away-from-home for A-listers. Here, Sarlot and Basten share a wealth of scandalous and intriguing tales.

Hollywood history and celebrity gossip collide in this legendary volume back in print after 2 decades. As a book lover, I appreciated the style. As a film lover, I enjoyed a behind the scenes glimpse into the private lives of stars from Grace Kelly to John Belushi. – Alan

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp |  Richard Hell
Punk pioneer Richard Hell, who coined the phrase “Please Kill Me” provides the details of an intensely interesting life in 1970’s New York City.

As a poet, the man also knows how to write compellingly about a rich subject, being in the nexus of the birth of New York Punk. – Alan

nf4

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family  |  Josh Hanagarne
An inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

A highly readable memoir; you don’t have to be a librarian to appreciate it. Hanagarne is a great writer as well as an insightful, inspiring person. – Alan

Kittenhood: Life-Size Portraits of Kittens in Their First 12 Weeks  |  Sarah Beth Ernhart
This book is 100% life-size photographs of kittens, including names and ages. Each turn of the page brings you face-to-face with adorable bundles of cuteness.

Because kittens! – Carol

Dessert Designer: Creations You Can Make and Eat!  |  Dana Rau
Step by step instructions teach readers how to create food art with cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and candies.

Update your kitchen to an art space with these beautiful and creative ideas for decorating goodies. My favorite ideas are the Treasure Chest made with Hershey Kit Kat Bars and embellishing a cake with rainbow sour candy strips. – Andrea