Katie's Staff Picks
"If events of the last few years have left you feeling anxious or lost, this is the book for you.
The “Anthropocene” is the proposed name for our current geological era, in which humans have had a major, Earth-changing impact. In these short essays, John Green “reviews” the Anthropocene, from cave paintings, to the internet, to Canada Geese. But while he may be reviewing scratch ‘n sniff stickers, Green is really using them as a window to talk about our wider place in the world and with each other. These essays helped remind me how small we are in the grand scheme of things (sometimes terrifying, sometimes comforting) and also reminded me I’m not alone in my own feelings. I laughed a lot and also found myself in tears several times. Green never shies away from our challenges, or how scary the world is and can be, but I came away with a feeling of comfort and hope. This would be a great gift to yourself or a loved one."
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"This book is so much fun! Chasing the Thrill is about a real life treasure hunt in the Southwest USA, where, starting in 2010, searchers used a poem to try and find an eccentric art dealer’s actual treasure chest full of gold. The author learned about this hunt and dived headfirst into it. With access to the hunt’s creator and many of its most prominent searchers, we get a front row seat to the dramas, both petty and fatal, of the last few years of the search.
This book kept me engaged from beginning to end. Would make a great gift or book club read!"
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"It’s been a long time since I read a post-apocalyptic book I enjoyed this much. In large part that was due to the characters, who I quickly grew to love and root for, but the mystery of this book also kept me hooked. This is one twisty, mind-bendy tale, and honestly the less said about it the better. I was worried the end might be disappointing (the answer is almost never as good as the mystery!), but David Arnold really knows how to play my heartstrings.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something a little different."
"Weddings are happy affairs, but sometimes there are secrets hidden behind the smiles. The Guest List asks the question, what if the secrets are really bad?
Set on a small island off the coast of Ireland during the middle of an exclusive wedding, this book is chock full of secrets and a seriously moody atmosphere. No one in this book is being entirely truthful, and the snappy pace kept the revelations coming. I had fun piecing together the mystery, and enjoyed the suspenseful, foreboding atmosphere even more.
A satisfying locked-room mystery that’s perfect for the chilly months!"
"This is a beautiful book. It imagines the story of Shakespeare's son Hamnet's death from bubonic plague. (Yes, I know, very timely.) But it's more than that too - it's the story of an unconventional and loving marraige, of resilience after tragedy, of the way that fresh grief takes us over. The writing often took my breath away, not only because the words themselves are gorgeous, but because the sentiments felt so true. I don't think I've ever read a book with the same feeling as this one. There's something magical about it, like a real life fairy tale. O'Farrell makes the people of Renaissance England feel real. It was struck by our common humanity and concerns. It's a timeless, heart aching story, and I can't recommend it enough."
"Alice Lovett was assaulted in her sleep during high school. Now, as an adult she finally wants to tell her side of the story. But how to do that when she doesn't remember the event itself? Told in prose, screenplays, college essay drafts, and unsent e-mails, this inventive, fascinating read kept me guessing. My idea of 'truth' evolved as Alice revealed it little by little. If you're getting sick of reading the same things or find yourself in a reading rut - or just want a great book - I really recommend this one!"
"This is Coates’s first novel (you may know him from his non-fiction works Between the World and Me or We Were Eight Years in Power), and he uses his strong, affecting prose to tell the moving and memorable story of Hiram Walker, born to an enslaved woman and her white slavemaster on a Virginia plantation.
While I’ve read many books about slavery before, Coates does an amazing job of making you look on it with fresh eyes. He shows the true monstrosity that was slavery – what it did to the enslaved, but also how it debases the enslavers. All while showcasing the dignity of enslaved peoples.
A very thought-provoking book that even has a touch of magic. I’d recommend it to any fan of Coates’s nonfiction work and to those who enjoyed books like The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead."
"I LOVED this book!! I adored Casey McQuiston’s first novel, Red, White & Royal Blue and going into this one, I wasn’t sure she could pull it off again. But she did and then some! Going into a McQuiston book, you know you’re going to get tons of hilarious dialogue, lovable and complex characters, and a week of reading past your bed time. But my favorite thing: I always leave her books feeling good about the world. Not everything goes perfectly (you might even cry a little), but she reminds me that there are good people out there and sometimes good things happen to them. This is one of those books where you finish it and wish all the characters were real so you could have a big dinner party with them. If you’re looking for an amazing, take-you-on-a-journey romance, this is your book."
"I enjoyed every moment of this delightfully offbeat novel about taxidermy, a nasty politician, a possible ghost, and yes, an aardvark. Sound weird? I thought so too, but I read it based off someone else's 'just trust me' recommendation and I'm so glad I did. This book is a very sharp and successful satire (it's so smart!), and I marveled at the connections the author made between the different strands of the story. At first, you don't think they can possibly come together, but in the end they do. Most of all, I was constantly surprised by this book, and if only for that I'd recommend it. I can promise this'll be the most original thing you read this year!"
"Here it is...the sequel to Beartown!
Picking up soon after the first book left off and following the same characters, Us Against You chronicles the continuing conflict in Beartown. After most of Beartown's hockey players defect to their neighboring rival town, the home team is threatened with disbandment. In a desperate attempt to keep the team going, compromises are made and lines are crossed. And everyone has to ask: what's really worth sacrificing in the name of keeping a hockey team together?
If you loved Beartown, you'll love this one too!"
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"Ghosts of Harvard is a powerful, emotional novel about a college age woman grieving her schizophrenic brother's death and her search for answers and her need for comfort. There are lots of twists and turns making this read though-provoking and intense. And Francesca's writing is just fabulous!"
"Meg is an ultra-involved, Cornell-bound high school senior with an after school job calling people in swing states to help them register to vote. One day she calls Colby, an eighteen-year-old stuck in a dead ebd job in a small town, who doesn't see the point in voting at all. The conversation could have ended there, but they take it to more phone calls, texts, and maybe more. . . I thought this would be a cute, pleasant story about a long distance relationship (and it was!), but it wound up having way more depth than I expected. A heartfelt, engaging romance!"
"At 15-years-old, Vanessa Wye has a 'relationship' with her teacher. Now at 32, another former student has come forward to accuse the same teacher of sexual assault - and she wants Vanessa to come forward too. But Vanessa doesn't feel like a victim. She wanted the relationship - didn't she? Even if she's never been able to truly move on, even if she researches the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder late at night and recognizes all the symptoms. A complex, sympathetic look at a complicated issue. It may be too heavy a subject manner for some readers, but I encourage you to pick up and give it a try. It's an important conversation - and also a great book!"