May Staff Picks
Check out our recommended reads for this month!
If you see something you are interested in, click here to reserve it for pick-up.
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny:
March’s book group reacquainted me with Chief Inspector Gamache. Louise Penny’s series could be described as mysteries, but that would not do credit to her focus on developing complicated, realistic, sympathetic (or not) characters. This installment is set on Easter weekend in the village of Three Pines, Quebec. Some friends decide to hold a séance, and one ends up dead. Add in some complexities on the job, and Armand Gamache faces a web of motivations, jealousy, and tangled relationships.
North of Boston by Robert Frost:
I’ve found myself going back to Robert Frost’s poems a lot recently. The quintessential New England poet’s turns of phrase and home truths resonate,
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”
“Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor…” “Every child should have the memory of at least one long-after-bedtime walk…”
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty:
Watched HBO’s Big Little Lies? The latest from that author, this book follows life-long friends Clementine and Erika and their husbands, who accept a last minute invitation to a Sunday afternoon barbecue in Sydney, Australia from neighbors Tiffany and Vid. Two months later, all anyone can ask is “What if we hadn’t gone?”
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier:
This is a graphic novel memoir, a companion to Smile (which was hugely popular), but definitely stands alone. Despite a target audience of girls 10-13, this is a quality book that is enjoyable by anyone.
The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan:
This is a great fantasy/adventure book, a fast read, and suitable for virtually all ages. It’s just a lot of fun, and there’s a long series that follows it.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith:
A hard-boiled detective story from the author of Harry Potter, (Robert Galbraith is actually J. K. Rowling). Very well written and entertaining, although I didn’t enjoy it as much as Harry Potter, but it’s a very different book.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot:
This true story was mind-blowing and should be on your radar, especially because the movie is out on HBO and has been receiving a lot of publicity. Henrietta lived in poverty farming tobacco on her beloved ancestral land and died very young leaving behind 4 little children. Henrietta lived a tumultuous life which ended after a brutal fight with cervical cancer before treatments were fully developed. Doctors took advantage of her terminal condition and harvested and kept her cancer cells without permission, all while she suffered through what were then experimental treatments. Her cancer cells were her key to immortality as doctors grew 50 million metric tons of them for sale and study. Thanks to her cells the polio vaccine was discovered, the effects of the atom bomb were studied, and advances in cancer research, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping were made. This journalistic narrative traces Henrietta’s history, the history of her family, and the legacy of her cells.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders:
*We do not own this book but can obtain it via inter-library loan if you are interested in reading it. It is also available as an eBook and audiobook on NH Overdrive.
The structure of this book completely threw me at first but once I started reading it the way I would a play it evened out. The author successfully melds historical fiction, historical accounts, excerpts from media and other nonfiction sources, with subtle satire and keen insight to create an emotionally moving portrait of the profound grief that comes with child loss. In this case it is President Lincoln’s loss of his son Willy to typhoid. The author uses Buddhist and Christian thought, subtly, to examine the human reckoning with loss, impermanence, the afterlife, and the implications of our choices. The characters that are stuck in Bardo (a Tibetan term to describe a place where souls rest before moving on) in the graveyard are reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s graveyard characters in The Graveyard Book. They come to care for Willie as he deals with his transition while also ruminating on their former lives. This book hits you with gut punches but the gallows humor and satire break up the heaviness. The characters were extremely memorable. Most importantly, the ending delivered that elusive closure we seek when dealing with loss.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova:
I loved this book for the sense of place it imparted, I felt that I could see, smell, and taste everything the Kostova was describing. Elizabeth Kostova is a master of the historical fiction genre and has a new release out, The Shadow Land (which we have and is receiving excellent reviews)! The Historian follows two narrators, one of a woman (who is never named) in search of her the history of her parents, and the other of her Father’s search for his beloved professor. The story weaves together the history of Dracula, supernatural intrigue successfully paired with history, and delectable descriptions of the voyages through Eastern Europe amid the political turmoil that has been commonplace for much of that area throughout history. The tone is moody and atmospheric and the writing is reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The atmosphere was so rich, immersive, and vivid that despite it being lengthy it was compelling enough to keep going. For fans of Dracula, Historical Thrillers, and Gothic Literature.
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer:
This is book 3 of The Last Survivors series. Miranda and Alex meet when her dad returns to her house. They both experience a lot of life-changing events. Heart-wrenching, riveting, and absorbing.
The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer:
We do not own this book but can obtain it via inter-library loan if you are interested in reading it. The final book in the Last Survivors series is told from Jon’s point of view. He has become very content in his position but everyone else has not and this causes conflict and changes.
Written in Red by Anne Bishop:
We do not own this book but can obtain it via inter-library loan if you are interested in reading it. It is also available as an eBook on NH Overdrive.
A unique story about shape shifters that are in charge of a world where humans are food. A fast-paced action filled story. Can’t wait to read the next one.
Snow White by Matt Phelan:
This is a wonderful version of the classic tale of Snow White. If you thought there was no new and original way to retell this story then Matt Phelan will definitely prove you wrong. This image-based retelling takes you back to Depression-era New York and with a new twist that will keep you interested with every page.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien:
The Hobbit is a beautiful classic that you absolutely need to read if you haven’t, (and maybe even re-read if you’ve already had the pleasure). You will accompany the original Hobbit on his long and twisty journey out of the Shire while meeting different people and creatures along the way. An incredible story!
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson:
A well-written short story that will really get you thinking about the traditions we practice and the way we live our lives. This is for anyone interested in a short dystopian story with a twisted surprise ending.