Staff Picks

Staff recommendations for the best of what to read, listen to and view in our collection.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

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Bernadette was once a promising architect in L.A.  Now she's hiding out in Seattle with a personal assistant in India, because bad things happen when she goes out amongst other people. Then Bernadette's daughter Bee aces her report card and her reward: a family trip to Antarctica. Bernadette agrees to make the trip but when the date nears she behaves more and more erratically, an intervention is planned, the FBI gets involved, and Bernadette disappears into thin air. Where'd You Go Bernadette is Bee's attempt to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance.

The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow

This is a very touching book about how 8 brides come to the Magic Room at Becker's Bridal, for their special wedding dresses.  It  focuses on the changing views of how they dress for the occasion, as  things have changed from the young sheltered brides of the early 20th century to the modern brides now.  Each story speaks of their hopes for the future and for what we wish our daughters to find in a marriage.  It is told from the Becker family multi-generational oowners of the shop and is very touching.  I really enjoyed it, although I often had to stop and dab at my eyes as the stories unfolded.  It's a shame that Jeffrey Zaslow was recently killed in an auto accident and won't live to share this moment with his young daughters.  As he reflected that he was looking forward to doing that, just before he died.

The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham

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I love British mysteries, cozies and others as well. I'm always happy to come across an older series I've missed, so I can start at the beginning and read on through the next several books without having to wait for each one to be published.  This one, first in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series, was very enjoyable, with charming characters in a small English village, some humor, and clever crime-solving.  And of course there is some sinisterness lurking in the village (who killed 80-year-old Emily Simpson?)...

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

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Madeline Stone leaves her life in Chicago to return to the place of her birth, a small town on the coast of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. She takes care of an aging family friend, starts working at the local pizzeria, tries to help settle a dispute at the local grocery store, starts to draw again, and, amidst the dramas of her new friends, and plenty of setbacks, she gradually finds what's missing in her life.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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The circus arrives without warning. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. Behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

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Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist’s work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. For as long as Buster and Annie Fang can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents’ madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents’ strange world.

 

There But For The by Ali Smith

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At a dinner party in the posh London suburb of Greenwich, Miles Garth suddenly leaves the table midway through the meal, locks himself in an upstairs room, and refuses to leave. An eclectic group of neighbors and friends slowly gathers around the house, and Miles’s story is told from the points of view of four of them: Anna, a woman in her forties; Mark, a man in his sixties; May, a woman in her eighties; and a ten-year-old named Brooke.

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

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Cara spends most of her time thinking about how much better her life used to be when her best friend Zoe was still around. She doesn't have many friends at school and is taunted by the popular girls, who refer to her as "Choker" after an embarrassing incident in the cafeteria. One day, Cara returns home from school to find that Zoe is back. She's run away from home, so Cara agrees to hide Zoe at her house so no one will find her. Now with Zoe back in her life, Cara's confidence returns and she finds herself making friends and flirting with Ethan, a boy she's always had a crush on. Then one of the popular girls that tormented Cara turns up dead and Zoe starts acting very strange. Cara can't help but wonder--is her best friend capable of doing such terrible things?

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

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It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.