Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

June 3, 2013

The Silent Land

The Silent Land
by Joyce, Graham

While traversing the slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains on an extended ski vacation, married couple Jake and Zoe awake to find themselves buried under a mound of snow. Having been caught in a massive avalanche, the two must now fight for survival. But upon returning to the once bustling holiday resort, they quickly realize that natural law is a thing of the past, and all that remains is a wasteland of silence and snow. Trapped in a place where remembering is as dangerous as forgetting, and nightmarish apparitions and incessant hallucinations haunt them at every turn, the two struggle to regain both their grip on reality and the will to live.

A superb blend of fantasy and horror, The Silent Land is like waking from a dream, only to find oneself in the midst of a nightmare. A true master of surrealism, Joyce effortlessly juxtaposes contrasting themes of the human condition: acceptance and denial, luck and fate, love and hate, but most of all, life and death. The Silent Land is as beautiful as it is eerie, and a must read for all those grappling with the idea of a hereafter.

— Recommended by Jeremy Weimer, Southport Library


May 27, 2013

36 Hours: 150 Weekends In The USA & Canada

36 Hours: 150 Weekends In The USA & Canada
by Ireland, Barbara, ed.
917.0454 THI 2011

If you like to travel, but don’t always have a week or two for a trip, or if you travel on business and have a little time to spare, this might be the book for you. Beautifully illustrated, each entry gives a three day itinerary of the recommended spots to see in each city. In large cities some of the emphasis may be on lesser known attractions. The book is organized by region and each section is introduced with a regional map. Each entry contains a section called The Basics in which you will find a small street map showing each destination, and some hotel information. If you are looking for a guide to a weekend get-away not too far from home, check it out. Or take a look to see what they recommend for Indianapolis. Yes, we’re in the book! And you just might want to take a tour of your own city.

                        — Recommended by Brenda Grable, Pike Library


May 20, 2013

Glass Houses

Glass Houses
by Caine, Rachel

College freshman Claire Danvers thought her parents were being too overprotective by sending her to Texas Prairie University instead of letting her attend MIT. Protecting their daughter from growing up and experiencing life is the least of the Danvers’ worries when Claire learns that Morganville is a haven for vampires.

When living in the dorm becomes too much (and too dangerous), Claire moves off campus and into Glass House, a house owned by Michael Glass, who readers quickly learn has secrets of his own. Claire makes friends with house roommates Eve and Shane, a couple of Morganville locals, who teach Claire how to stay out of harm’s way and survive in a town where the impossible is very much possible.

Glass Houses is the first book in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series. Caine does a good job of character development and explaining just what makes Morganville tick in the first couple of books. Further into the series readers will learn about Morganville’s history and just how deep Claire’s involvement with the town will run. This series is a good one to pick up for those who enjoy reading paranormal fiction such as the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.

                            — Recommended by Aimee Bittle, Garfield Park Library


May 13, 2013

Summer Lies

Summer Lies
by Schlink, Bernhard

Currently, short stories abound, fitting perfectly into our fast paced lives, but I've found none so deeply satisfying as Bernhard Schlink's Summer Lies. Each finely tuned scrumptious tale begged to be reread. This set of seven stories has been translated from German and all have European travel in common, with the characters maneuvering precarious social situations. After reading about the persons you will meet--- playwright, writer, musician, househusband, grandmother, murderer, father, son--- our own relationships may seem less complicated, more successful!

A musician and trust fund baby meet while on vacation and engage in a mutually deceitful yet satisfying affair. Upon returning home, they make decisions based on reality, not fantasy.

A woman author has a househusband who has begun taking controlling behaviors to an extreme. What steps will he take to prevent her fame from disrupting their idyllic life in the country?

While on an all night flight, imagine yourself seated next to a passenger who unburdens himself, confessing a murder. The murder that he committed while involved in human trafficking. Upon arrival, you notice that your wallet is missing. There are so many ways this story can go….identity theft is one of them, but Bernhard has a surprise in store and I will not disclose it!

An estranged father and son take a trip together-a music festival-will they finally be able to finally discuss the issues left unanswered for decades? Will they be able to translate these emotions with the help of music?

How does a grandmother cope with the loss of love for her own grandchildren? Her granddaughter tries to encourage her to try to reconnect with pleasurable memories from youth, only to find that her youthful actions were alienating for others then, also.

If you enjoy these stories, rush out and top them off with a copy of Schlink's more famous book, The Reader, which will not disappoint. Caution: if you begin to devour a story before bed, your sleep may be postponed!

                                        — Recommended by Sharon McKittrick, Lawrence Library


May 6, 2013

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools
by Brill, Steven
371.01 BRI

I had not known who Steven Brill was until encountering his terrific piece "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," a special report which Time magazine published on March 4th of this year. I found the writing to be clear, accessible, and willing to stake out a position (which is something journalist writers often seem to struggle with).

Brill displays all of those traits in this book as well. Structured as a kind of annotated timeline (from January 2009 to Winter 2011), Brill takes a look at Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top program, the Harlem Success Academy charter schools, then-New York School Chancellor Joel Klein, then-Chancellor of the Washington D.C. school system Michelle Rhee, and current president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten.

Brill controversially identifies teacher unions as the most conservative and problematic player in education reform. Initially he is able to marshal the work of skilled charter school teacher Jessica Reid as well as researcher Thomas J. Kane to his cause. By the end of the book, however, Brill comes to realize that the problem is too large to solve without the union’s help.

This debate has continued at the local level as well. From conservative Democrat Glenda Ritz defeating Republican reformer Tony Bennett for State Superintendent of Education, to far-right republicans advising that the state abandon Common Core standards, education is one issue where it can be hard to identify who believes what. Hopefully you attended the Library’s recently concluded series “Conversations about Education”, held at the Central Library. You can be sure that this will continue to be a heavily discussed issue both nationally and locally.

                                                      — Recommended by Chris Murray, Central Library