Staff Picks

Library Staff Recommended Books for 2012

"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home." Anna Quindlen spoke about the importance of books in How Reading Changed My Life. Being lucky enough to work everyday in a place full of books, librarians come across a wide assortment of the new, the odd, the classic, and the utterly fascinating. Here's a list of titles that our staff recommended for their favorite books of 2012. It features fiction, fantasy, mysteries, nonfiction and young adult.

Dory L

Mystery & Detective

A Duty to the Dead     A Duty to the Dead    
Charles Todd
    Mystery & Detective MYS - Todd

Another in an involving series set during WWI in England. Bess is a nurse who's injured when her ship sinks. While recovering, she's haunted by a letter that she promised to deliver to a dead soldier's family. Great reading.

Nonfiction

Abstract City     Abstract City    
Christoph Niemann
    Adult Nonfiction 741.6 Nie

Everyday life translated into visual flash fiction by a talented designer. Created for a New York Times blog, these pictorial essays translate the routine into the absurd, for instance, some lego sculptures depict a variety of coffee drinks. There's even a piece about battling lint. You can read the book over lunch.

Escape from Camp 14     Escape from Camp 14    
Blaine Harden
    Adult Nonfiction 921 Shin Har

This haunting story describes the life of a young North Korean raised in a labor camp. He fought his own mother for food and watched camp guards kills his own family members. A harrowing story that still offers hope.

Quiet: The Power of Interoverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking     Quiet: The Power of Interoverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking    
Susan Cain
    Adult Nonfiction 155.232 Cai

Did you know that between one-third and one-half of Americans are introverts? This book explores our quieter, more contemplative friends and relatives and summarizes the latest research on this interesting personality type.

The World without Us     The World without Us    
Alan Weisman
    Adult Nonfiction 304.2 Wei

This covers many aspects of history, culture, geography etc. and asks the question--what would the world look like if humans suddenly or gradually disappeared. It's a hopeful story, actually. Riveting.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar     Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar    
Cheryl Strayed
    Adult Nonfiction 070.444 Str

Strayed of Wild fame (the hiking memoir about the Pacific Crest Trail), includes advice of all kinds that she wrote under the pen name Sugar while working as a columnist for Steve Almond's The Rumpus. Both humorous and compassionate, this self-help book will encourage you to get your life in order for 2013.

Adult Fiction

After Dark     After Dark    
Haruki Murakami
    Murakam

What happens in Tokyo between the hours of midnight and dawn? These loosely connected stories offer a hint of magical realism and provide many absurd moments that will keep you reading.

Bring up the Bodies     Bring up the Bodies    
Hilary Mantel
    Mantel

This novel follows Mantel's award-winning Wolf Hall. Henry the VIII has tired of his second wife Anne Boleyn and has designs for a quieter woman, Jane Seymour. Be careful of that cursed wedding ring!

Cutting for Stone     Cutting for Stone    
Abraham Verghese
    Adult Fiction - Verghes

Outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a nun gives birth to conjoined twins in the night.  A skilled obstetrician saves them but the mother dies. The reported father, a British surgeon, disappears. Outstandingly well reviewed.

Dead I Well May Be     Dead I Well May Be    
Adrian McKinty
    Adult Fiction - McKinty

This dark tale of revenge follows illegal Irish immigrant Michael Forsythe who becomes an enforcer for mob boss Darky White. Things go horribly wrong when he and his fellow enforcers are trapped in a drug sting in Mexico.

Invisible Monsters     Invisible Monsters    
Chuck Palahniuk
    Adult Fiction - Palahni

Think your family is dysfunctional? You're bound to feel better about yourself by comparison with the family depicted here. Campy banter among the fashion world set. Not for the sartorially challenged.

Narcopolis     Narcopolis    
Jeet Thayil
    Adult Fiction - Thayil

This Man Booker nominee introduces a Bombay opium den from the 1970s through the heroin trade of the 1990s. The dazzling prose unfolds the heartbreaking stories of numerous unique characters, including Dimple, the eunuch, and Mr. Lee, the Chinese refugee. One of the best books this librarian has ever read.

Never Let Me Go     Never Let Me Go    
Ishiguro
    Adult Fiction - Ishigur

Three friends from an English boarding school for special students reconnect in their thirties. This beautifully written literary novel examines issues of trust and love against a backdrop of cloning and organ farming.

Olive Kitteridge     Olive Kitteridge    
Elizabeth Strout
    Adult Fiction - Strout

A novel in stories that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009. It centers on a seventh grade math teacher from Crosby, Maine and features a string of other characters who the author reports are "always alone.  Born alone. Die alone."

The 13th Hour     The 13th Hour    
Richard Doetsch
    Adult Fiction - Doetsch

A man literally is racing the clock as he rushes to prevent his wife's murder. A gripping, suspenseful, page-turner. Cast your favorite actor in the lead role of the frantic husband. Tom Hanks anyone?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time     The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time    
Mark Haddon
    Adult Fiction - Haddon

A teenager with autism who does math puzzles in his head for fun decides to investigate the death of a neighbor's dog. Along the way he discovers secrets about his family and himself.

The Family Fang     The Family Fang    
Kevin Wilson
    Adult Fiction - Wilson

Two adult siblings return to their artistic parents' home and reconnect with all the elements of their chaotic childhood. Ann Patchett described this book as a work of "genius."

The Orphan Master's Son: a novel     The Orphan Master's Son: a novel    
Adam Johnson
    Adult Fiction - Johnson

A coming of age novel that captures the otherness of North Korea. Dreamy sequences about a lost mother, a cultural mission to America as a diplomat, a stint as a spy listening to a female rower each night over the radio. Literary fiction that will expand your world-view as it enthralls you.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet     The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet    
David Mitchell
    Adult Fiction - Mitchel

A movie tie in always creates buzz -- and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is no different. But his newer novel, The Thousand Autumns...is my favorite. Don't let the story line of a ship's clerk at the Japanese port of Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor and political strategies of the Dutch East India Company bore you. This novel is filled with engaging characters, unique voices, rough and lush landscapes, and the presentation of a time period that is less well known. De Zoet's journey is often funny, sometimes sad but also fully captivating.

The Uncommon Reader     The Uncommon Reader    
Alan Bennett
    Adult Fiction - Bennett

The Queen of England visits a mobile library and takes up controversial reading. A great premise for a delightful novella written by the humorous playwright Bennett.

science fiction

All Clear     All Clear    
Connie Willis
    SF Willis

Three historians from 2060 travel back in time and experience the Blitz in London as it happens. Can time travelers actually change the course of events? Read this to find out.

Damnation for Beginners     Damnation for Beginners    
Alan Campbell
    Science Fiction - SF Campbell

A pair of greedy bank tellers for the Henry Sill Banking Corporation desert the city of Cog for hell. This terrifying tale has beautiful illustrations. Its riveting story will keep you reading 'til the late hours.

The End of Mr. Y     The End of Mr. Y    
Scarlett Thomas Bethany
    SF Th

After finding a mysterious book with the same title as this one, the heroine, Ariel, a professor, swallows a tincture and disappears into the troposphere. Time travel mixed in with academic banter. Who can resist?

Young Adult Fiction

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children     Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children    
Ransom Riggs
    Young Adult Fiction - Riggs

This haunting young adult fantasy centers on an abandoned orphanage on a mysterious island. Were the children quarantined for some reason? What happened to them? Vintage photos bring the text to life.

Secret Letters     Secret Letters    
Leah Scheier
    Young Adult Fiction - Scheier

This young adult book tells the story of Dora, who may be the daughter of Sherlock Holmes. If you like mysteries set in Victorian London with a strong female character, try this book.

Ship Breaker     Ship Breaker    
Paolo Bacigalupi
    Young Adult Fiction - Bacigal

This young adult thriller is set in the future where oil is scarce and ships are ripped apart for metal and other elements by young people. A dystopian look at love among the ruins set in our Gulf Coast region.