Staff Picks

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

August 10, 2015

Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble

Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble
by Johnson, Marilyn
930.1 JOH

If, like me, you grew up watching Harrison Ford play the swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones - never without his trusty whip and worn fedora, always ready to get into a fistfight over some priceless relic or another - your notion of what being a practicing archaeologist is like is probably inaccurate to say the least. If you are interested in rectifying that, you should pick up Marilyn Johnson’s recent book, which provides readers a glimpse into the real world experiences of archaeologists working today at sites around the globe. No, there are no whips or Nazis or fanatical cults, but what there is instead is a fascinating examination of what it’s really like to make your living sifting through the debris human beings have left behind. It’s not a particularly glamorous life, and the archaeologists featured in Johnson’s book will likely never become household names, but what carries through is their love of the past and unwavering commitment to preserving history so that it can continue to educate and be enjoyed by future generations. You will walk away from this book with a newfound sense of wonder at how much can be learned about life in times gone by from the smallest scraps of pottery and wood, and with a renewed appreciation for those individuals who try to make the past a little clearer for all of us. And, if you’re anything like me, Johnson’s book will make you look at that rusty nail you dug up from your garden or the old, yellowed newspaper you found hidden behind your drywall in an entirely new way.

Lives in Ruins is also available as a downloadable e-book and an audiobook on CD.

                --Recommended by Abby Relue, Central Library


August 3, 2015

I'll Be Seeing You

I'll Be Seeing You
by Hayes, Suzanne and Loretta Nyhan

Rita Vincenzo, a middle-aged professor's wife in Iowa, and Glory Whitehall, a young mother in Massachusetts, begin a pen pal relationship through a 4-H address exchange for war wives. Though they come from different circumstances, they become valued friends, their letters supporting each other through the war. These letters paint vivid pictures of what it was like living in America during World War II- births, deaths, wartime temptations, anti-German sentiment, cooking sugarless, victory gardens, recycling tinfoil and censored V-mails. First time authors Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan have come together and written a detailed, unforgettable historical epistolary novel though they have never met in person, just like the characters in their book.

I'll Be Seeing You is also available as a downloadable e-book

Recommended by Karen Perry, Franklin Road Library


July 27, 2015


by Cameron, Stella

Stella Cameron is starting a new series, featuring Alex Duggins. It was originally independently published as COLD; it’s now available as an e-book and in hard copy. Folly is atmospheric and fast paced. In the village of Folly-on-Weir, everyone has secrets and someone is willing to kill to protect their secret.

Following a painful divorce, Alex Duggins returns to Folly-on-Weir, the English village where she grew up. She buys the local pub, and starts to mend her life. Alex is walking to the pub one bitter cold morning, when she hears a dog howling. She goes to investigate and discovers a dead monk and his grieving dog. The police suspect Alex. To clear her name, she is determined to find the real killer with the help of the local vet, Tony Harrison.

Not to be read at bedtime, the chapters are short, so it’s easy to think—I’ll read just one more chapter. Folly is like a Lay’s potato chip---you can’t stop at just one!

                       --Recommended by Debbie Overshiner, Eagle Library


July 20, 2015

Neverland: J. M. Barrie, the du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan

Neverland: J. M. Barrie, the du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan
by Dudgeon, Piers
B Barrie, J.M. DUD

The adventures of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys have enchanted children for decades. But how did J. M. Barrie invent such a fanciful world? Were the ideas entirely his own, or were they appropriated from children’s make-believe games? After exhaustive research, Piers Dudgeon has presented his compelling, if somewhat sensationalistic, theories. He suggests that Barrie’s chance meeting with the Llewelyn Davies boys had been carefully planned, and that many of the events in Peter Pan had been directly lifted from his observations of the boys’ games. Barrie is portrayed as a manipulative Svengali, who uses hypnosis and magical writing to bend the will of everyone around him. Did this manipulation have something to do with the premature deaths of parents Arthur and Sylvia, and even of some of the children years later? Was Peter Pan really a “demon boy” who convinced children that death is an adventure? Was Barrie a sacrificing uncle who selflessly took the orphaned boys under his wing, or was he a puppet-master with ulterior motives? Although some of Dudgeon’s ideas may seem far-fetched, they are definitely thought-provoking. After reading Neverland, you will never view Peter Pan in the same way again.

— Recommended by Heidi Holmer, Lawrence Library


July 13, 2015

Ameican Ghost

American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest
by Nordhaus, Hannah
133.109789 NOR

What would you do if you read stories about your great-great-grandmother, Julia, haunting a bed and breakfast in Santa Fe New Mexico; stories that your great–great-grandfather had tortured her and possibly murdered her? In American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest, Hannah Nordhaus used this excuse to research and discover her family; from their origins as 19th Century German Jews to their life in the New Mexico frontier and beyond. During this search she talked with historians, psychics, distant relatives, and ghost hunters; read newspaper articles and personal diaries and visited the German city Julia was born and raised in, a concentration camp where many of Julia’s family members died, and the Las Posada, the old family home in Santa Fe, New Mexico trying to find the essence of her great-great-grandmother and what drove her to the madness that eventually ended her life. The ghost stories and information on psychics and other paranormal investigators are mixed in with the historical aspects of the history of the Staab family. A must read for anyone who is interested in real life ghost stories or family histories.

         --Recommended by Judy Clem, Garfield Park Library