Staff Picks 2017 March

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Staff Picks March 2017 (1.6MB)
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Homo DeusHomo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. Where have we been, where are we now and where are we going as a species? Pitched for the general reader with clarity, humor and many “aha” examples, we journey from the dawn of humanity to the current Anthropocene Era dominated by man and the religion of Humanism. While pointing out possible pitfalls in our continuing evolution (including self-extinction), Harari remains cautiously hopeful. What separates human consciousness from other species is imagination and the drive to tell stories and Science, Politics and Religion are the tools. Is consciousness simply a sophisticated series of algorithms? Will the continued development of Artificial intelligence eventually put an end to the species? We are currently in the Age Of Dataism where information IS religion. Should be required reading for all. Magnificent, profound and delightfully readable. ~ Karen Frank
The Well of Being: A Children's Book for AdultsThe Well of Being: A Children's Book for Adults by Jean-Pierre Weill. Spiritual and philosophical in a gentle and genteel manner, this book made me smile and then laugh and has become a favorite of mine to share with adults of all ages. ~ Maeve Noonan
The Stranger In The WoodsThe Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. Everyone has had the same thought after a vacation comes to an end. The last day rolls around and you're dreading driving back to the routine drama of everyday that is awaiting you. But what if you didn't? In 1986, Christopher Knight walked into the woods in Maine and disappeared for 20 years. This is the remarkable story of how he stayed hidden so long and an attempt to figure out why he gave up everything for solitude. ~ Chris Linendoll
How To Murder Your LifeHow to Murder Your Life: A Memoir by Cat Marnell. Marnell, a devoted pill popper, over-privileged party girl, ex-Condé Nast beauty editor, and Vice online columnist, plays and writes with fire. She's glamorous and charismatic, but her drug-induced breakdowns are grim and raw. She's not looking for redemption and she's realistic about her inability to get clean. She does, however, want to get better; to tip the balance from drugs to living. Not everyone will appreciate her dark and flippant tone, but her prose and perception can be electric. I couldn't put this memoir down. ~ Sue Rice
High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American ClassicHigh Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic by Glenn Frankel. Director Fred Zinnemann's tense western was made during one of the most tumultuous times in Hollywood history. This is a chilling chronicle of the impact that anti-communist witch hunts had on the entertainment business in general and on individuals associated with High Noon in particular. Distinguished careers vanished overnight as studio heads bowed to the pressure applied by politicians drunk with their own power. Very few people suffered more unjustly than the film's writer, Carl Foreman. Some of the elements that made this period one of the nation's most perilous seem to be ominously reasserting themselves today. ~ Alden Graves
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
Black Elk: The Life of an American VisionaryBlack Elk: The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson. This work is seminal and important to anyone interested in indigenous people, the American West, or 19th century U.S. history. Jackson's biography is worthy of sitting on the shelf next to Black Elk Speaks. Absolutely stunning in not only its veracity but also of its quality of storytelling. ~ Maeve Noonan
Voices in the Stones: Life Lessons from the Native WayVoices in the Stones: Life Lessons from the Native Way by Kent Nerburn. These true tales are personal meditations on the innate Native American wisdom of the natural world's physical and spiritual elements. Sensitive and often haunting, these narratives, with their big and small instances of grace, offer ways to be more naturally and respectfully human. ~ Maeve Noonan
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American CityEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. The author is a reincarnation of late 19th-Century slum journalist and photographer Jacob Riis: unwed mothers, drug addicts, malnourished children, deranged and disabled adults, and luckless friends crammed into tiny, cold, roach-filled trailers and apartments, the landlord and the eviction notice daily fears, and surrender, or escape, to the rent-free street only a heartbeat away. ~ Mike Hare
Booktopia 2017



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Desperation RoadDesperation Road by Michael Farris Smith. An intense unsettling ride into the back roads and truck stops of a southern town where murder and violence erupt following the coincidental return of two former residents. Secrets, revenge, passion and old mistakes haunt the characters. This is a great big novel that you'll devour hoping with each turn of the page that mercy and justice will prevail. ~ Nancy Scheemaker
The SleepwalkerThe Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian. When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her daughters both fear that grievous harm has befallen her, especially because she is a sleepwalker prone to bizarre behavior. An interesting study in family dynamics, this novel will steer you through a maze of red herrings until the reason for her disappearance is revealed in its shocking conclusion. ~ Amy Palmer
We Were the Lucky OnesWe Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. This gripping, poignant work is based on the recollections of an 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
Edgar and LucyEdgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato. This is a wonderful book with a cast of unforgettable characters navigating their way through life amidst all the burdens of grief, love, and loss. It’s a mesmerizing story, the kind you want to curl up with and savor for hours! ~ Liz Barnum
No Man's LandNo Man's Land by Simon Tolkien. This sweeping historical novel takes Adam Raine from his tragic childhood in the slums of London to the labor unrest amid the grueling Yorkshire coal mines to the exposed terrors of trenches of World War I France, with stops along the way in Edwardian country house society. Adam's journey from boy to a man is compelling and riveting. A marvelous read. ~ Tambra Johnson Reap
Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris. A thrilling tale of manipulation and abuse. Jack is the type of man who can charm the pants off of you one minute and the next you're being punished for not preparing dinner right. Spine tingling and a bit frightening. ~ Cortney Fancentt
A SeparationA Separation by Katie Kitamura. Through language as calmly assertive and magnetic as that of Elena Ferrante, a woman searches for her estranged husband in scorched southern Greece. A disquieting, probing story about the secrecy at the heart of every relationship, no matter how intimate. ~ Cathy Taylor
CelineCeline by Peter Heller. Celine is a private eye whose own fractured childhood fuels her work in reuniting separated families. Her current case involves a young woman whose father, a world-class National Geographic photographer, disappeared decades earlier, presumably killed in a bear attack. Part rich family saga and part investigative thriller, Celine is both thought-provoking and pageturning. ~ Stan Hynds
Close Enough to TouchClose Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley. A heartwarming story about two people trying to make a connection. Jubilee Jenkins is a young woman diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening allergy to human skin cells. Her first kiss triggered an anaphylactic reaction that nearly killed her. Necessity forces her out into the world where she meets a single dad trying to communicate with his rebellious, teenage daughter and grief-stricken, adopted son. Each holds a key that helps the other reach their goal. A truly enjoyable read. ~ Shirley Cagle
The Fall of Lisa BellowThe Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo. A brilliantly executed psychological portrait of Meredith, a teenager left behind on the floor at the Sandwich Shop when a robber/gunman takes Lisa, the middle school's queen bee popular girl. She subsequently descends into a new-found surreality of post-trauma popularity and experiences an alternate reality where she was also taken and is surviving with Lisa. This is also a brilliant characterization of Meredith's mother's internal emotional life, pre and post trauma. ~ Jon Fine
My (Not So) Perfect LifeMy (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. Bridget Jones meets The Devil Wears Prada in this delightful romp. A funny and witty look at the disconnect between Katie Brenner's life that she wants to live and the one she actually does, and how that disconnect can make it hard to deal with the reality. A well developed, sympathetic main character and a fun read. ~ Tambra Johnson Reap
Lincoln In The BardoLincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders. Abraham Lincoln seeks his departed son in a graveyard purgatory pulsating with comic, tragic, and thwarted life. Thru language inventive and freeing, Saunders lifts his lost souls to the cusp of divinity, and gives the reader a taste of the wild enchantment of literature. ~ Alden Graves
The DryThe Dry by Jane Harper. Not only is this an excellent debut novel, but it transcends mystery genre cliches and ropes with engaging characters and clever storytelling that keeps you guessing. It transports readers to a small, rural Australian town and allows you to feel enmeshed in the struggles, feuds, and duplicitous nature of its residents. ~ Rachel Williams