Staff Picks 2018 October

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Melmoth: A NovelMelmoth: A Novel by Sarah Perry. Melmoth is a spirit condemned to wander the earth seeking to befriend the lonely and the lost. Helen Franklin is a woman living in exile in Prague who feels its influence– and her own life–starting to unravel. Cloaked in shadows and with a strong whiff of the Gothic, the author of The Essex Serpent has once again crafted a sumptuous tale that is about so much more than just keeping one awake at night. ~ Charles Bottomley

A dark, gothic jewel of a novel. Do you ever feel like you’re being followed? Are the shadows just a little too dark? Does something move in your peripheral vision? Best read in one sitting, just make sure you’re not alone, and you have all the lights on. ~ Becky Doherty

The Diary of a BooksellerThe Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. Such fun! A day-by-day account of life running a bookshop in a quirky, literary town with colorful residents. Bythell is a charming author. You will want to drop into his shop for a chat and, for a while, you can with this lovely book. ~ Becky Doherty
The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great WarThe Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War by Neal Bascomb. A select group of POWs gave their German captors a great deal of trouble during World War I. The word "escape-proof" simply didn't apply. The author of The Winter Fortress chronicles the ingenious methods these determined men used to escape to freedom and rejoin the war effort. Many of them were eventually recaptured, punished, and sent to camps where the rugged terrain and the heightened security made the prospect of escape even more daunting. An exciting look at a little known facet of The Great War. ~ Alden Graves
The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court's Assault on the ConstitutionThe Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court's Assault on the Constitution by David A. Kaplan. The validity of issues involving abortion, gun, voting, and gay rights are ultimately determined by the United States Supreme Court. Kaplan argues the Court’s outsized influence has enfeebled the political process, poisoned public discourse, subverted democracy, and brashly empowered a tribunal of unaccountable judges. ~ Mike Hare
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted AmericaDevil's Mile: The Rich, Gritty History of the Bowery by Alice Sparberg Alexiou. Sure, bums lived there, but first came the Dutch, the English, the Irish and the German, Jewish, Italian, and Chinese. There were estates, theaters, tenements, whorehouses, swindlers, crooked pols, pimps, and drug dealers. Punk debuted there, the final sordid surge before another Bowery transformation into a glittery, pricey destination where bums are not welcome. ~ Mike Hare
Beyond Broadway Joe: The Super Bowl TEAM That Changed FootballBeyond Broadway Joe: The Super Bowl TEAM That Changed Football by Bob Lederer. Joe Namath made the guarantee, but the entire New York Jets team delivered in Super Bowl III. Surviving Jets players recount the intense preparation, physical and mental demands, and teamwork that propelled them to a championship that forever altered the NFL. ~ Mike Hare
Never in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War's Lost BattalionNever in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War's Lost Battalion by Edward G. Lengel. The "Lost Battalion" gained immense acclaim throughout America after withstanding unimaginable horrors of trench warfare in World War I. After returning home as heroes, their celebrity faded and their physical and emotional wounds festered. Now, a century later, Lengel's work helps ensure their legacy will not be forgotten. ~ Mike Hare
The Widower's Notebook: A MemoirThe Widower's Notebook: A Memoir by Jonathan Santlofer. Santlofer speaks of grief as a series of details preceding and following the sudden death of his wife. It does not read as an uplifting account of the ways grief can inspire and better ourselves; it is instead like a conversation with a friend who knows exactly what you are going through. ~ Katelynne Shimkus
Reasons to Stay AliveReasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. Haig is a wise man, and this book should be required reading for all. Our mental health is something we all need to take care of, especially in these tumultuous times, and Haig’s insightful words can be a huge help. Whether to understand yourself or others better–read this now! ~ Becky Doherty
The Provocative ColetteThe Provocative Colette by Annie Goetzinger. Ghost writer turned famous author, Colette was subversive for her time, throwing off her husband, choosing her own lovers, both men and women, and living her life as it best pleased her. Goetzinger paints her as a force of beauty, leading the way off the beaten path. ~ Hanna Yost
The Winter SoldierThe Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason. A beautifully written WWI story about love, the horrors of war and decisions made, right or wrong. Riveting and atmospheric! If you loved All the Light We Cannot See, this book is for you! ~ Liz Barnum
Severance: A NovelFrench Exit by Patrick deWitt. Meet the dysfunctional Price family: New York socialite Frances, her adult son Malcolm and their cat Little Frank. Plagued by scandal and debt the trio cut their losses and slip away to find refuge in Paris. Filled with quirky characters and laden with dark humor, French Exit is feast of wit and human foibles. ~ Sarah Donner
Black Diamond FallBlack Diamond Fall by Joseph Olshan. A young man disappears after a hockey game with friends on a local pond. Police suspect fowl play while his friends, including an older man he has a secret relationship with, have other ideas. Beautifully written with interesting characters, most of whom are provocatively suspect. Set in Vermont. ~ Sarah Knight
The Silence of the Girls: A NovelThe Silence of the Girls: A Novel by Pat Barker. What happens to the women on the losing side in a war? This is the story of the Trojan women from the perspective of Briseis, a princess who was “awarded” to Achilles and used as a weapon in a power struggle by Agamemnon. What is so startling is how vivid and modern the telling is. All of the characters are fully textured and passionately alive. I loved this book. ~ Maeve Noonan
KaterinaKaterina by James Frey. A prequel to the controversial Million Little Pieces, this book is Frey's love letter to Henry Miller. After selling enough drugs to live in Paris for a year and escape "the creaking machinery of humanity," he spends his time in a drug-induced fog drinking, sleeping around, and writing. At this story's heart is a tragic love story borne from reckless behavior and youthful ambitions. ~ Whitney Kaaz
A Spark of Light: A NovelA Spark of Light: A Novel by Jodi Picoult. The author recounts the parallel stories of the men and women who were present in a Mississippi abortion clinic on the fateful day when a shooter opened fire. The novel is written in reverse time, starting with the aftermath of the shooting and winding back to the reason each of the people entered the clinic. This story is about women’s rights, pro-life activism, and just how far a person felt one had to go to make one’s voice heard. Jodi Picoult at her best! ~ Suzanne Rice
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock: A NovelThe Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock: A Novel by Imogen Hermes Gowar. London in the late 1700s is a complex mix of social classes. Angelica Neal, an expensive escort, finds herself in dire straits after her wealthy patron dies. She carelessly promises herself to a merchant if one of his ships can bring her a mermaid. The imagery is descriptive and well-written and the story is a very enjoyable read. ~ Shirley Cagle
Gone So LongGone So Long by Andre Dubus III. In his new novel, Dubus reveals character as expertly as I’ve ever seen it done. The three main characters are linked by an unspeakable crime committed forty years ago. Through each of their stories, Dubus explores themes of love and anger, forgiveness and condemnation, and perhaps most of all the capacity to love and be loved. This is a slow burn of a novel that gripped me from start to finish. ~ Stan Hynds
The Sisters of the Winter WoodThe Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. What happens when coming of age comes with more changes than expected? A family lives in the woods, apart from their village. The parents of Liba and Laya are called away, and one sister learns a family secret right before they leave. The story combines Jewish myth with historical fiction, including the advance of the Russian Pogroms on their village. I liked how the chapters alternated between one sister writing in prose and the other writing in poetry, which helps define their characters. This story will sweep you along and keep you intrigued. ~ Percy Sutton
The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics DrawingsThe Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings by Leonard Cohen. This collection is sure to satisfy fans as well as draw intrigue from outsiders who may only be familiar with Cohen’s name. Although the lyrics collected here are familiar, it is indeed the material from his notebooks that are the real main attraction. There’s an intimacy in these verses that one generally finds only in the secrecy of journals or diaries. After reading this book I feel quite close to a man I will never meet. If this is one of the main attempts of art, then Mr. Cohen has achieved it here. ~ Alex Bell
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth FrankensteinThe Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. Elizabeth Lavenza is an abused and unloved orphan until the Frankenstein family takes her into their home to be a playmate to their young son, Victor. Her survival depends entirely on her ability to manage Victor’s ever worsening temper and depravity. White keeps in the gothic tradition while producing a bold new female voice in this marvelous and monstrous retelling. ~ Hanna Yost