Staff Picks

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

July 6, 2015

Station Eleven

Station Eleven
by Mandel, Hilary St. John

“No more ballgames played under floodlights. No more trains running under the surface of cities ... No more cities ... No more Internet ... No more avatars.” This is Mandel’s compelling story about the end of civilization. A deadly virus dubbed the Georgian Flu arrives in the middle of the United States via a flight from Russia. The disease kills 99 percent of the world's human population within 48 hours, leaving a remaining one percent at the mercy of a new chaotic world.

This handful of people who are either immune to the disease or just lucky take first steps into a new life, attempting to survive without everything we now take for granted. Twenty years after the initial holocaust, a travelling band of actors and musicians set out to find the lost members of their troupe, not knowing where their journey through the ravaged landscape may ultimately lead them.

Pivotal characters include Arthur Leander, who died playing King Lear in Toronto the night the plague began and Kirsten, who shared the same stage, playing one of Lear's daughters as a little girl.

The narrative alternates between post-apocalyptic world and pre-pandemic world, around a set of survivors intertwined with Arthur. Mandel smoothly navigates between past and present, brilliantly connecting the characters and guiding them to an ultimately beautiful and surprising finale.

This is a stunning, transcendent novel that richly deserves the accolades it received.

Station Eleven is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.

           — Recommended by Emily Talbott, Nora Library


June 29, 2015

The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic
by Pratchett, Terry
SF P9122co 1989

The original Discworld novel and the first in the Rincewind saga, The Colour of Magic is award winning author Sir Terry Pratchett's initial offering into the fantasy genre. Set in a world situated on the back of the massive space turtle A'Tuin, the book follows the misadventures of the failed wizard, Rincewind. Employed as a tour guide by the four eyed foreigner Twoflower (the world's first tourist), the wayward wizard is charged with keeping the naive newcomer safe from the multitude of dangers he encounters as he sight sees his way across the continent and beyond. Simultaneously light hearted and poignant, The Colour of Magic will suck readers in from the first page. It is a must read for fans of science fiction and the perfect introduction to a series that has been nothing but a delight for more than 30 years and across 40 books.

The Colour of Magic is also available as a downloadable e-book, and is on order as an audiobook on CD.

                 --Recommended by Josh Crain, East Washington Library


June 22, 2015

Uncle Janice

Uncle Janice
by Burgess, Matt

First, the title. Uncle Janice? Who can resist at least taking a look at a book with a title like that? You can, you’re a stronger person than I am. Then the people: Janice Itwaru, a woman with a mother fluttering into dementia, co-workers with stories to tell, bosses with their own agenda. Queens: with its own rhythms, its own heartbeat, its own secrets. Everybody lies, everyone has their own agenda, you wanna get by in that world, it’s what you do. Janice is on the edge, one month to go until she escapes, or rather, moves up the next rung on the ladder. One month, but the bosses, the criminals, her past, her present—stumbling blocks, one after another. Totally dysfunctional, all of it, and yet Burgess wades in, gathers all the threads, weaves a story with a voice that is hard to resist. He’s created—or maybe recreated—a world that is chaotic, messy, filled with gray areas and pitfalls, nobody’s the good guy and yet everybody has some good if you peel down a few layers. Remember the TV series M*A*S*H, how you were laughing at Hawkeye’s antics one minute, then, boom, something horrifying and you’re caught mid-laugh, something stuck in your throat and now you’re crying? Uncle Janice is like that, funny, and dark, and horrifying and endearing. And any author who can evoke that roller coaster of emotions is an author worth a second look.

Uncle Janice is also available as a downloadable e-book.                  


               --Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library


June 15, 2015

A Good Man

A Good Man
by Murray, J.J.

Sonya was a star professional basketball player when she was a young adult. Now she’s a little older and is content to spend her days quietly watching her favorite TV shows and letting the world pass her by until her agent books her on a reality dating show similar to the bachelor…Hunk or Punk. She’s against it in the beginning because she doesn’t think America is ready for her strong Christian morals, her honest brand of reality, and she also thinks there’s no reality in reality TV these days. But after she gets on set, she changes her mind and begins to shake things up and enjoy herself.

John used to be the pastor of a small town AME church in rural Alabama, but now he’s the church handyman. And at this point in his life, he’s tired of being alone and has decided to go on Hunk or Punk as a last resort to find a wife, not a woman or a date. But he isn’t the sort of man Sonya would normally fall for; he isn’t rich and he’s white. Nevertheless, after John sets his sights on Sonya, he makes a vow not to let her go, because he’s playing for keeps.

But will the secrets they are both hiding push them apart or pull them together? Will John win Sonya’s heart and be her Hunk or be voted off as just another Punk?

A Good Man is also available as a downloadable e-book.

             --Recommended by Claudine Polley, Fountain Square Library


June 8, 2015

I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist

I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist
by Halbreich, Betty with Rebecca Paley
746.92 Halbreich HAL

Recently I watched the library’s copy of a DVD called Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, which is about the history and magic of the famous New York City department store Bergdorf Goodman.

One of the many people featured in the documentary included Betty Halbreich, who might be called a super personal shopper, although she herself doesn’t like that term. Betty has worked at Bergdorf’s for more than forty years, and is still going strong at the age of 86. Amazing!

In some ways, Betty’s life has been a privileged one. She was born to affluent Jewish parents in Chicago, but although her mother and stepfather were doting, they weren’t always available, and she was often lonely. Her mother’s closet was her refuge, and the wonderful garments in it were her playmates. Later Betty married the son of rich hotel owner who took her to New York City, and she lived a life where her only duties, outside of wife and mother, were shopping and lunching with the wives of her husband Sonny’s friends. Betty was good at shopping and always seemed to know instinctively what would look good on her.

But life with Sonny became increasingly difficult, and Betty struggled to leave her marriage, only succeeding when their two children became independent. A nervous breakdown followed and then new struggles. Betty needed to find meaningful work, but, as a daughter and a wife, she had always been discouraged from working. Finally she landed at the famous department store.

Betty asserts that her job there became her salvation. She’s now an institution at the store and some of her young customers are the granddaughters of women who were customers in her early days. She’s a tough lady who’s an excellent judge of clothing, and although some people fear her honest opinions, others eagerly seek out her counsel. Her goal is to treat each person as an individual and to help her fill the psychological needs underlying her quest for beautiful clothing.

I’ll Drink to That is also available as a downloadable audiobook and an audiobook on CD (both audiobooks are read by Jane Curtin) as well as a downloadable e-book.

        --Recommended by Georgia Silvers, Warren Library