2016 Staff Picks

31 Dec

Library staff read a lot this year! When we asked them to share some of their favorites they jumped at the chance. Take a look at their favorites. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite too!

Our Children’s  and Teen staff have put together lists of their favorite books just for too. Check them out!

Children’s Staff

Teen Staff

Jessica S. – Libbie Mill

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was my favorite novel from this year, another great one was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Another book published this year that was wonderful is Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. Another one of my favorites that I read this year that was not published this year, but in 2012, was The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (who I love ).

Can you tell I love historical fictions?

All of the books are set in France, three during WWII and one, The Girl You Left Behind, during WWI. They all tell the stories of women and their families living during that time, struggling to stay afloat in a world full of chaos. Their stories are inspiring, and the books really draw you into their worlds and make you fall in love with the characters. Great reads!!

Shanna M. – Administration

The Confident House Hunter by Dylan Chalk.
This book made us feel less overwhelmed, and like we actually knew what we were doing. The author is easy to read and understand, and it saved us time and money on our house hunt.

Kareemah H. – Varina

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
An absolute must read if you have any interest in science, biology, the politics and history of genetics or why fruit flies exist (hint: so humans could experiment on them and discover genetics). Absurdly readable for the regular person, no huge amounts of statistics or complicated formulations.

Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters #1) by Amy Stewart
Based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs. One of those heroines you wish you’d read about as a young person.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Based on true events and the people who were held prisoner and worked at the Ravensbruck Women’s Concentration camp in WWII, Kelly tells the story from three angles: the prisoners, the doctors who performed experiments on them, and a wealthy New York Socialite safe on American soil. The Lilacs come into play later in the novel but they too are based in truth.

Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers by Simon Winchester.
Excellently informative and eye opening.  It’s much too late to pretend we are not a globally intricate world.

The Bees by Laline Paull
Original and quirky angle from which to tell a story. Quite fascinating. I ended up briefly researching how bee colonies work.

Dawn C. – Varina

Follow the River by James Alexander Thom.
Thom has an incredible gift for putting you in the footsteps of his characters. I shivered and bled right along with these women – those who made it and those who didn’t.

Crashed by Timothy Hallinan.
I love finding a new author to make me laugh.

The Sun’s Heartbeat by Bob Berman.
There’s more to the sun than just light, and this book explains it all well.

Savannah C. – Tuckahoe

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Jason is a physicist with a unique problem: he’s been kidnapped by a version of himself from another multiverse. He has to fight (himself) to get back to his real life. Great geeky thriller!

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
A romantic heroine with Asperger’s syndrome. How refreshingly different!

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I listened to the fantastic audiobook version of this great middle grade book. The main character, Ada, escapes an abusive household and tries to make sense of the larger world around her during World War II.

Time and Again by Jack Finney
This time travel novel written in 1970 has the most realistic time travel conceit I’ve encountered. I was made aware of how awesome and terrifying the actual experience would be.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
An out of work librarian sets up her own mobile bookshop in Scotland. Total wish fulfillment!

Diane B. – Fairfield

The Martian by Andy Weir
The main characters felt completely authentic and individual, from the Mars stranded Mark Watney to rogue NASA administrators. This is an excellent survival story that isn’t sappy or melancholy, but vibrates with gung-ho energy and problem-solving creativity.

Benjamin S. – Tuckahoe

The Enemy by Lee Child.

My favorite book that I was able to read this year has been The Enemy by Lee Child.  This book is a sort of prequel to the Jack Reacher novels, set while Reacher is still in the military.  The pacing is quick, the intrigue sleek.  Child’s newest offering in the Reacher series “Night School” takes place shortly after the events in The Enemy so if you’d like to follow this series, The Enemy is a great start!

Amy C. – Tuckahoe

Here are my faves that I read this past year:

Adult Fiction
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

YA Fiction
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

JUV Fiction
Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Erica M. – Twin Hickory

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

I really enjoyed The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin!! All extremely well-written books, ones you get absorbed and lost in.

Hayley D. – Tuckahoe

Out on the Wire: Uncovering the Secrets of Radio’s New Masters of Story with Ira Glass by Jessica Abel
This is the best instructional see-how-the-sausage-gets-made graphic novel, complete with a cartoon Ira Glass.  This book taught me to be a better audio editor, and also made me listen closer to the stories I love to listen to on the radio and in podcastland! It was sublime.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
In a word, this book was gutting.  Desmond is a lyrical writer who doesn’t shy away from brutal truths and hard tales.  His humanizing portrait of renters and their landlords is easily one of the best nonfiction works of 2016.

Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World by Leigh Ann Henion
If you enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, you’ll love this book.  In it, Henion is seeking to find herself, her center, after a traumatic event but in this case, the traumatic event is new motherhood, and her journey takes her all over the world.  It truly is phenomenal.

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
Robinson has gained fame for her podcast with cohost Jessica Williams, and this book’s constant one-two punches of raw truths and hilarious asides makes it one of the best comedy books of 2016.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
“How could he explain to Marjorie that what he wanted to capture with his project was the feeling of time, of having been a part of something that stretched so far back, was so impossibly large, that it was easy to forget that she, and he, and everyone else, existed in it, not apart from it, but inside of it. How could he explain to Marjorie that he wasn’t supposed to be here. Alive. Free.”  This quote from Gyasi’s groundbreaking book touches on the heart of the novel’s themes.  For lyrical, thought-provoking historical fiction, look no further.

Mike S. – Tuckahoe

Hanging Mary by Susan Higginbotham
Compelling fictional account of the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, believably told by the doomed Mary Surratt.

Nelly Dean by Alison Case

Desert God by Wilbur Smith

The Tournament by Matthew Reilly
Entertaining historical mystery/adventure/fantasy set around a grand chess tournament in Constantinople in 1546, featuring a young Princess Elizabeth Tudor.

Lisa K. – Libbie Mill

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire.
Eleanor West’s school for wayward girls exists to help those who stumbled into other worlds, then returned, adjust to this life. Nancy’s the newest student. Her arrival is followed by two murders. I loved the tone of this too-short novel.

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
Laurence is the hero of a s/f novel, Patricia the heroine of an urban fantasy story — only it’s all here on one book.

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett
The mothers of the title include both the church mothers and two individual young women — one seeking motherhood, the other not. Bennett explores what motherhood means and looks like from many points of view.

In the Woods, by Tana French
I am “late” to discovering the gripping “Dublin Murder Squad” mystery / thriller series. These mysteries and characters grab hold of you!

Kara R. – Tuckahoe

The Color of Water by James McBride
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
My Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

Kathy M. – Varina

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Grades 4-7.  A powerful story about the relationship between a boy and his pet fox.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Grades 5-8.  This book raises some of the same issues as To Kill a Mockingbird, but with social status rather than racism as the basis for injustice. Hardcore bullying is a major theme.  (Info taken from SLJ)

Withering By Sea by Judith Rossell
Grades 3-7.  A Gothic adventure full of suspense and magic.

I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino
Preschool—Grade 3.  A picture book that celebrates the history of storytelling.

The Various Flavors of Coffee by Antony Capella
(Adult) A great read about coffee, love, and women’s suffrage.  Published 2009.

Alicia A. – Administration

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner – best YA novel – this one will make you ugly cry!

Evicted by Matthew Desmond – best nonfiction
A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean – best romance

Patty C. – Twin Hickory

Hystopia by David Means
A sci-fi-tinged alternate history of Vietnam war-era Michigan that explores the trauma inflicted by living in a society engaged in perpetual war.  Not for the faint of heart, but a beautiful book, and highly recommended.  A debut novel by a great short story writer.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (YA – high school)
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (YA – middle school)

Katy B. – Fairfield

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Lindsey H. – Varina

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
This is a “cli-fi” story of what happens when southern California goes from dry to uninhabitable. By turn lyrical, suspenseful, disturbing, and funny, Watkins writes about the west like nobody else.

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce
Reading Pierce can make me forget I have dinner on the stove, a smart phone, or responsibilities. Her characters are complex and her worlds are complete, and this was a satisfying extension of the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series.

Out On the Wire by Jessica Abel
This expository comic about the inner workings of NPR taught me more than I ever dreamed about writing, oral history, and how NPR produces radio stories that keep me sitting in my car long after I’ve parked.

Uproot by Jace Clayton
An exciting book from world-renowned DJ Jace Clayton (a/k/a DJ Rupture) about music, place, and forms of exchange — brilliant and written with great heart.

Elizabeth H. – Fairfield

I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan by Eliza Griswold
This collection features a modern take on an ancient poetic tradition.  They’re two-liners that are perfect for reading between interruptions.

The Dressmaker by  Rosalie Ham
This story drew me in with its seductive prose and promise of something more to come.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was not disappointed in the final reveal.

Matt P. – Administration

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
A fascinating account of two pioneers I’ve always heard about and wanted to learn more. McCullough, as always, does a great job of presenting the brothers as real people who did extraordinary things.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
A supernatural, quirky and humorous mystery set in London. Checks all the boxes for a fun read for me. Peter Grant discovers a special talent and quickly becomes immersed in a new world of crime fighting he didn’t know existed. The first in the Peter Grant series.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
Recommended to me by a friend who knows books better than anyone I know. She nailed it! Funny, frightening and fantastic. Poor Zoe, she goes from a no body to rich and hunted in a futuristic city with no rules in less than a day. She’s got her cat and some “new friends”. How does she cope?

Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
I watched The Expanse on SyFy and had to read the books. Set in a future where Mars and the Asteroid Belt have been colonized, political intrigue has led to military action. We follow a detective from The Belt and a spaceship captain who are trying to solve a mystery that may calm things down. The first in the Expanse series.

Laurie B. – Tuckahoe

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
My favorite book this year was A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman. And seeing the movie afterward was great too.  Loved the whole “Swedish” culture.

Desiree H. – Administration

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Bachman
This is one of my all-time favorite books. The movie also does the book justice too. It is a feel good story of a grumpy old man who becomes a hero in his community. I think part of its charm is that it reminds me of my grandfather.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
It is an interesting memoir about a boy from a dysfunctional family. What is more surprising is that it takes place in a middle-class area but previous generations were dirt poor. It is about how your roots follow you.

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