Staff Picks 2017 February

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Staff Picks February 2017 (1.5MB)
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History of WolvesHistory of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. I enjoyed this intriguing novel about a commune-raised, teenage girl seeking her place in the world. The writing style allows you to sympathize with her while still not completely understanding how she feels or reacts. It's puzzling why she befriends a pedophiliac high school teacher and seemingly ignores the signs that her neighbors are acting very strange when their son falls ill. And in the end, I wondered about her motives too. ~ Shirely Cagle

A brilliantly imagined novel about a fourteen year old girl of peculiar upbringing who becomes entwined in the lives of a neighboring family. It is a rare novel whose story and astonishing writing style grabbed me on the very first page. This is the work of an amazing talent. ~ Stan Hynds

Lillian Boxfish Takes a WalkLillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. Alone and lonely on New Year's Eve, an 85-yearold woman recalls the glittering metropolis she once knew on a long walk from her Murray Hill apartment to welcome in 1985 at a friend’s home in Chelsea. Her talent and the wealth she accrued didn't spare Lillian Boxfish from enduring difficult times. Her recollections are wistful, reflective, and even regretful but, like the darkened city around her, she never succumbed to defeat. This is a lady worth taking a journey with. ~ Alden Graves
Difficult WomenDifficult Women by Roxane Gay. The women of Gay's short story collection are, unsurprisingly, difficult -- at least by the standards of a culture that demands docility, modesty, and prettiness. To the rest of us, they're just uncompromisingly human: messy, angry, funny, selfpossessed, and unafraid to take up space. A fascinating, page-turning exploration of modern womanhood. ~ Cathy Taylor
Leopard at the DoorLeopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh. A sweeping novel set in 1950's Kenya. A young woman returns to her family farm after being away at boarding school for six years. She must learn to accept her father and his new relationship with a strange and powerful woman and learn to live in an ever changing politically unsettled climate. ~ Sue Rice
The Life and Times of Persimmon WilsonThe Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock. This novel is told from the perspective of Persimmon "Persy" Wilson on the eve of his hanging. It chronicles his life as a slave, convicted of murdering his former master and kidnapping his master's mistress. It's an epic tale of love, failure, despair, and triumph. As the story unfolds and Persy's character changes, my opinion of him shifted drastically. ~ Shirley Cagle
His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick MacRaeHis Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick MacRae by Graeme MacRae Burnet. This story of a grisly multiple murder in 1869 is so convincingly rendered and painstakingly researched, it reads like history from the annals of true crime. Seventeen-yearold Roderick Macrae, his life and future strangled by a pitiless class system, kills a bullying overseer and his two children in a small village in Scotland. Fiercely original and ingeniously told in documents "recently discovered" by the author. One of the year's best books. ~ Alden Graves
Homesick for Another World: StoriesHomesick for Another World: Stories by Ottessa Moshfegh. A collection of short stories as sinister, lonely, and weirdly funny as any you'll read all year. With desires both fantastic and unsettlingly familiar, this book's narrators speak to how alienating, disappointing, and thrilling being human can seem. ~ Cathy Taylor
We Were the Lucky OnesWe Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. Unlike a number of recent World War II novels, this gripping, poignant work is based on the recollections of a extended Jewish family from Radom, Poland. Of 30,000 Jews living in Radom prior to WWII, only 300 survived. While I cried silently through numerous parts, I was completely engrossed in each family member's fight for survival against all odds. This novel is a triumph over the adversity this family faced. In the end, the title says it all. ~ Shirley Cagle
Always Happy Hour: StoriesAlways Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller. This is an acerbic and seductive collection of stories about women who are detached, who drink a lot and have sex a lot - often with the wrong man. They lead degraded and conflicted lives as a result of making dangerous choices, but these women's voices are unique and mesmerizing. ~ Amy Palmer
Department ZeroDepartment Zero by Paul Crilley. Ever wished for lighthearted, comedic Lovecraftian monsters? Or Hitchhiker's Guide, but a little darker with a snarkier protagonist (but every bit as hapless)? Whichever way you approach it, Department Zero is the peanut-butter-burger, improbably delicious mix of two seemingly incompatible sci-fi classics. ~ Katelynne Shimkus
Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied HospitalBellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky. The story of New York's premiere public hospital mirrors the tumultuous history of the city in which it is located. Bellevue has never turned away a patient and its physicians and scientists have often been at the forefront of medical research. Battered by political maneuvering and vulnerable to changing times, the hospital has endured as a symbol of mankind's capacity for compassion and care. A fascinating, oftentimes thrilling,book that is eminently worthy of its subject. ~ Alden Graves
TippiTippi: A Memoir by Tippi Hedren. The author was a single mother working as a model to support her daughter when she came to the attention of the world's most famous movie director. The dream come true turned out to be a waking nightmare as Alfred Hitchcock's fixation degenerated from obsession to sadism. Hitchcock eventually destroyed her movie career, but Hedren built another life for herself as a world-renowned animal activist. By turns, this memoir is chilling and inspiring. ~ Alden Graves
Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico's Most Dangerous Drug CartelWolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico's Most Dangerous Drug Cartel by Dan Slater. Slater chronicles the lives of two American teenagers as they become ensnared by Mexico's Gulf Cartel. He gives vivid accounts of cartel operations and insight into the mindset of their trained murderers. A coherent look at failed drug policy, poverty, economics and the bloody, amoral realm of organized crime south of the border. ~ Nate George
Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short LivesAnother Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge. What did you do on November 23, 2013? The families and friends of ten youths have that date seared in their memory. Gunfire, either planned, random, or accidental, killed those youths in ten American cities. Younge reveals the harrowing circumstances of each death, trying to overcome the galling conclusion that when senseless carnage happens, it's just another day. ~ Mike Hare
Disaster Falls: A Family StoryDisaster Falls: A Family Story by Staephane Gerson. From the harrowing drowning of his eight-year-old son on a family rafting vacation, Gerson has crafted an elegiac memoir. He plunges into unplumbed personal and family recesses, to surface with the sense of grief yielding, ever so slowly, to a wiser, richer life. ~ Mike Hare
The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of MurderThe Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, a Serial Killer, and the Meaning of Murder by Claudia Rowe. The author was a reporter in Poughkeepsie, New York when a young man was finally apprehended for the murders of eight prostitutes in the area. Kendall Francois stashed the bodies in the attic of his parents home. In circumstances reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs, Ms. Rowe attempted to pry details of his life and crimes out of the unrepentant killer. He agreed only if she would divulge personal facets of her own life. A chilling and oddly moving journey into obsession and madness. ~ Alden Graves
Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-DiscoveryUnbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery by Steph Jagger. What started off as a personal challenge to do anything a man could do turned out to be a book of personal firsts and self-discovery. Skiing in British Columbia, Steph Jagger read a sign "Raise Restraining Devise" and she did just that. She left her job and leased out her apartment. Chasing winter around the world, she skied a total of four million vertical feet. Full of adventure and humor and real life discovery she finds how to love, how to live and how to just let go. A truly inspiring odyssey! ~ Sue Rice
Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will PrevailAudacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail by Jonathan Chait. Written largely before the 2016 election, Audacity portrays Obama as a transformative president on health care, the environment, and the economy, while acknowledging severe missteps in foreign policy. Chait predicts Obama's accomplishments will outlast attacks and become accepted and essential elements of 21st-century America. ~ Mike Hare
You Will Not Have My HateYou Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris. On November 16, 2015, Antoine Leiris lost his wife at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris bombing that killed 88 people. This powerful story follows Antoine and their infant son thru his search for news, the loss, and the sadness of her death. The letter he wrote to her killers and posted on Facebook explaining his determination to raise their son without hate is inspiring. ~ Sue Rice
Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common GoodBorn on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good by Chuck Collins. Third base was a cold, comfortless cocoon for Collins, whose inherited wealth brought him material splendor but social and emotional sterility. Involvement with individuals, groups, and organizations with financial needs allowed Collins to shed his moneyed isolation and learn that the appreciation of personal wealth has nothing to do with money. ~ Mike Hare
Sex from Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship RulesSex from Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules by Sarah Mirk. Take it from someone who loathes self-help books: this is a legit relationship reference, born out of the experiences of people in unorthodox loving arrangements, who had to buck all conventions and learn sex from scratch. ~ Katelynne Shimkus