Staff Picks 2016 July

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Staff Picks July 2016 (4.6MB)
Vinegar GirlVinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. Kate Battista takes care of her household, her sister Bunny, and her absent-minded scientist father. As if this were not enough, her father is pressuring her to agree to his crazy plan to save Pyotr, his lab assistant, from deportation. A modern version of The Taming of the Shrew, this book's characters will stay with you long after you finish reading it. ~ Adriana Gómez Piccolo


A new slant on an old story by one of my favorite contemporary writers. Kate Battista is horrified when her scientist father asks her to marry the Russian he works with to provide the young man with American citizenship. Vinegar Girl is part of a series of adaptations by notable authors of WiIliam Shakespeare's plays. Ms. Tyler has used The Taming of the Shrew to provide a foundation for a story brimming with perceptive observations about the complex and difficult nature of family relationships in the 21st century. ~ Alden Graves

Winning Arguments: What Works and Doesn't Work in Politics, the Bedroom, the Courtroom, and the ClassroomWinning Arguments: What Works and Doesn't Work in Politics, the Bedroom, the Courtroom, and the Classroom by Stanley Fish. This is an accessible guide to understanding rhetoric. The author makes a case that all arguments are the root of thought. This book supplies strategies, insights, and outlines to win debates and arguments. By offering examples of current issues, he does not suggest we disprove others but rather persuade them. ~ Sue Rice
Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every WaySelf Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way by Nely Galan. The first president of a major television network recounts her climb up the corporate ladder to become the CEO of Telemundo. Her strong advice on "how to get it done" concerns issues that include financial security, strength, and peace of mind; words directed to all women wanting to reach their full potential. This book is empowering and its message will stay with you. ~ Sue Rice
Grit: The Power of Passion and PerseveranceGrit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. A must read! This book will transform the way you think of success. It will re-define how you view your life goals and give you tools to strive to be the very best you can be. I highly recommend it! ~ Sue Rice
Sex Object: A MemoirSex Object: A Memoir Jessica Valenti. Valenti puts into words what, unfortunately, so many women have experienced in their lifetimes by giving a stark account of her experience growing up in New York City. I closed the book with a sigh close to relief that, at last, there is a tangible account of the toll sexual harassment takes on a person, immediately passed the book to my sister, and encourage you to do the same. ~ Jess Hanlon
Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie BuckImbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen. Cohen describes in detail the decades-long push to forcibly sterilize criminals and other undesirables. At the heart of the movement was the case of Buck vs Bell which went all the way to the supreme court, leading to Oliver Wendell Holmes famously declaring "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." A long overdue account of eugenics in America. ~ Nate George
Certain Magical ActsCertain Magical Acts by Alice Notley. Notley's latest collection of poems strikes you hard. The stunning force and originality of her language echoes her conflicting desires to both "beat the drum" of poetry and carve out a place to be "alive outside written memory." For Notley, history constricts and condemns us; she yearns to exist outside time, to "just live." One of the fiercest, most inventive poets writing today. ~ Cathy Taylor
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to ForgetBlackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. Hepola nurtured a love affair with alcohol that lasted from her teens into her thirties. Alcohol made her feel fiercer and freer until blackouts swallowed whole swathes of her memory. With sharp and darkly funny prose, she tells an electric story of loving booze and relearning how to be awake and alive without it. One of my favorite books of the past year. ~ Cathy Taylor
The Field & Stream Rifle Maintenance Handbook: Tips, Quick Fixes, and Good Habits for Easy GunningThe Field & Stream Rifle Maintenance Handbook: Tips, Quick Fixes, and Good Habits for Easy Gunning by Chris Christian. An outstanding compendium of best practices for keeping any center fire or rim fire rifle in top condition. Answers to many of the questions shooters have and lots of information most of us never knew we needed. Well written and well presented. ~ Nate George
The Hatred of PoetryThe Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner. Counting himself among poetry-haters, Lerner, a poet, addresses those readers who have always felt turned off by poetry. His argument is both a defense and acknowledgment of poetry's failings. The book's persuasiveness rests in the author's ability to reconcile language's limitations with the poet's grand ambition. Though writing poems is to pursue an impossible goal, to fail again and again, this small book renewed my belief in poetry's vast possibilities. ~ Cathy Taylor
The InvoiceThe Invoice by Jonas Karlsson. What is the price of happiness? The protagonist in this novel, a young film buff living in Stockholm receives a whopping invoice from a mysterious bureaucratic agency that has determined the cost of the simple joys in his life. Can enjoying a pizza, or being in love be calculated? Read The Invoice: A Novel and find out. ~ Amy Palmer
BarkskinsBarkskins by Annie Proulx. This novel rightfully belongs to a select group that are worthy of being regarded as examples of epic American literature. The centuries-spanning story of a single family, working in various facets of the timber industry, is Ms. Proulx's best book since The Shipping News. Reading it is a little like taking a ride down a raging river in the wilderness, but the author's abiding concern for the sanctity of nature is evident on every page. ~ Alden Graves
PondPond by Claire-Louise Bennett. Who knew a nameless woman's string of musings, from past loves to tomato puree, could be so enchanting? Plotless, dialogue-free, hovering between the imaginary and the real, this book, its language and its narrator possess a powerful magic. I started Pond and didn't break its surface until I'd read it all. ~ Cathy Taylor
WidowmakerWidowmaker by Paul Doiron. Game Warden Mike Bowditch is approached by a woman who begs him to help her find her missing son. His journey takes him into the familiar deep woods of Maine. There he must face memories of his father, who he has tried hard to forget, along with newfound information about the missing boy. Action-packed and unforgettable. ~ Sue Rice
A Hero of FranceA Hero of France by Alan Furst. The author's acclaimed spy novels are usually set just before World War II, but his latest takes place in 1941 in occupied Paris and the surrounding countryside. Resistance leader Mathieu and his group help British pilots who have crashed in France. Furst is a brilliant chronicler of suspense and intrigue.The scenes where Mathieu and his followers, always wary of Germans and French collaborators, secure documents and train passage from France for the pilots are nail-biting. ~ Sarah Knight
HomegoingHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi. In this spectacular debut novel, Gyasi follows the lineage of two half sisters from 18th-century Ghana. One strand stays in the Asante region of West Africa with strong ties to the local slave trade. The other line ends up enslaved in the southern United States and eventually becomes part of the Great Migration to Harlem. A remarkable feat of storytelling and historical fiction by a major new talent. ~ Stan Hynds
As Good as GoneAs Good as Gone by Larry Watson. This 1960s family drama, set in a small town in Montana, is a genuine pageturner. Calvin Sidey becomes a reluctant hero (or is he the antihero?) when he agrees to stay with his grandchildren for a week while their parents are out of town. There is peril aplenty for the Sidey family and Calvin wastes no time in handling all comers in his own way. A rare and wonderful novel where story, characters, and style are all equally excellent. ~ Stan Hynds
I'm Thinking of Ending ThingsI'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. Jake and his girlfriend are driving to visit Jake's parents on their secluded farm during a blizzard. What follows is a bizarre psychological thriller that will ensnare you until the final sentence. An exploration of the psyche, a plunge into fearful depths, this is literary fiction at its best. ~ Amy Palmer
My Last ContinentMy Last Continent by Midge Raymond. Deb and Keller feel truly at peace in an ice covered research tent in Antarctica. The few weeks each year they can spend doing research together and escaping the "real world" is perfection. But this year, Keller misses the boat south. When a distress signal from a cruise ship is received, the research vessel must attempt a rescue. Deb's worst fear is realized when she hears Keller is on board the stricken ship. This is a story of adventure, exploration, love, and passion. ~ Jess Elder

Griffin and Sabine, 25th Anniversary Limited Edition: An Extraordinary CorrespondenceGriffin and Sabine, 25th Anniversary Limited Edition: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock. Griffin is an artist in London. Sabine, a woman living on a South Seas island, sends him a postcard out of the blue. Their relationship grows as they exchange beautiful cards and letters. However Griffin has doubts: Is it real or is he going mad? This is the 25th Anniversary Edition of this wonderful epistolary correspondence.

The Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine's Lost CorrespondenceThe Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine's Lost Correspondence A year into their correspondence, Griffin decides it's time to meet Sabine. This is the last volume in the series and, as each postcard and letter is read, the tension builds. Will they actually meet in Alexandria at the Pharos Gate or will the creature stalking Sabine keep these two soulmates from finally meeting? Wonderful, beautiful, and delightful with gorgeous illustrations by the author. ~ Sarah Knight



All the Time in the WorldAll the Time in the World by Caroline Angell. A lovely debut novel about Charlotte, an accomplished musician who becomes a nanny to a family that has two challenging little boys in Manhattan. She discovers that, not only is she good with children, but she also is very much needed when an unthinkable tragedy strikes the family. This story speaks of the courage to carry on. It is full of love, humor, and healing. ~ Sue Rice
Circling the SunCircling the Sun by Paula McLain. This account of Beryl Markham's life describes a woman light years ahead of her time. Her very grounded childhood aside an African tribe allowed her to trust herself and reach for her stars. ~ Vicki Ward
The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. If you're not busy for a couple of days, you should definitely pick this one up. You won't be able to put it down! It is told by three different narrators. One of the voices belongs to Rachel, who begins investigating a murder when she sees something suspicious from the vantage point of a train window. This thrilling bestseller has an unexpected and completely satisfying ending! ~ Becky Doherty