Staff Picks

Extrordinary Ordinary People Extraordinary, Ordinary People by Condoleezza Rice  

 This is not just your ordinary politico memoir or a typical walk down   memory lane.  This book is positively inspiring.  I wish that every high school student had this as required reading.  Ms. Rice proves that no matter what your passion, no matter if other people think it is silly or impractical, if your goal is to be the very best you can achieve great things.  Perhaps it should be required reading for parents of all teenagers too.  Unyielding support, no matter the direction can lead to greatness.  -Trish

 The Brave

 The Brave by Nicholas Evans

 This is the second book by this author, and it is just as wonderful as his first.  The story spans one man’s life, altered and colored by generations of secrets, half truths and tragedy.  As years pass and the truth fades away another generation of secrets threatens to ruin his son's life.  Nicholas Evans wrote The Horse Whisperer, which was made into the beautiful movie directed by and starring Robert Redford. -Trish

  Unbroken

 Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

 Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, has once again proven that the words biography and page-turner can enthusiastically be used to describe the same book.   Many years of research later we have the story of Louis Zamperini, a man who is truly amazing in his strength, both physical and emotional.After a childhood that was a little more adventurous than any mother finds comforting, his running career was cut short by World War II, as he was shot down over the Pacific and captured after many days at sea.  What was required for survival as a POW and becoming whole again makes him, in my mind, truly amazing. -Jane

A Secret Gift

 A Secret Gift by Ted Gup

In seventeen years of selling books, I can count on one hand the number of books I would recommend that absolutely everyone read.  Ted Gup’s A Secret Gift is among them. This story of Sam Stone and his then-anonymous generosity is fascinating for readers of all ages, and for those of us too young to remember the Great Depression, the opportunity to know the specific details of how people were affected is a powerful experience. This is a book people will be discussing for a very long time, and I believe we will be better for it. -Jane 

 

Moonlight Mile Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

In my opinion, Dennis Lehane is one of the best crime-fiction writers out there.  His books are paced as page turners, but I still stop to re-read the occasional passage simply for the way it is written.Moonlight Mile picks up years after Gone, Baby, Gone with the same characters, although there were a couple Kenzie and Gennaro books in between.   If you want to follow them from the beginning, A Drink Before the War is the place to start. -Jane

 

It's a Book

 It’s a Book by Lane Smith

This is my new favorite “for kids of all ages” book. (But please read through to the end before deciding if it is appropriate for your child!)     -Jane

 

Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That

 Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? by Ina Garten

 

She’s back....she is making it even easier for us to enjoy yummy meals with our family and friends. From cocktails to dessert, Ina Garten shares her tips and time saving recipes...easy with delicious flavors. Have a peek on page 138, Steakhouse steaks with roquefort chive sauce...how bad can that be? -Ann

 

Simple Art of EatingWell

 The Simple Art of Eating Well by Jessie Price

In my kitchen, this is a “go to” cookbook.  The recipes in this book are easy to follow...many having less than 10 ingredients.  The Cream of Mushroom and Barley Soup is beyond delicious. The Porcini mushrooms add depth and richness to the soup. I followed the recipe but will confess that I added more mushrooms than suggested ...shitake, cremini and button were the stars! -Ann

Stokes Field guide to the Birds of North America The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America  by Donald & Lillian Stokes

This is the biggest, most complete, national photographic field guide ever published. It also includes a bonus CD of over 600 bird sounds from 150 common species that will help you to identify birds you hear. The photography is wonderful! -Ann

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

 Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

This sublime novel explores so many things – longing for tradition, acceptance of the modern age, hope for new love, pride, the frustration of family, the multicultural melting pot that our world has become – and yet retains a simplicity and subtlety that is lovely to behold. Just a gorgeous read. -Kath

 

Mockingbird

 Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

This recent winner of the National Book Award, when described as the story of a 10 year old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome whose older brother has just been killed in a school shooting, sounds like an extremely intense read.  It is not.  Ms. Erskine has managed to address these modern issues with great sensitivity and, by telling the story from Caitlin’s perspective, rare insight.  Mockingbird is a wonderfully written novel that inspires a new perception of our world. -Kath

 

Savory Baking

 Savory Baking by Mary Cech

My favorite recipe in this cookbook so far is for Peppered Pear & Goat Cheese Scones and they are so yummy, I want more right now!  These recipes are simple and scrumptious, but the best part is that all of your family and friends will praise you as a genius baker of the highest degree! -Kath

 

Super Sad True Love Story

 Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

True to its title, Gary Shteyngart’s new novel is a Super Sad True Love Story, though it’s not exactly true in the literal sense and it is actually quite funny and full of life. A dystopian satire with lacerating wit and a very human story at its core, this is a very compelling work from one of the country’s most heralded young authors. His sharp sense of humor tempers his sentimental side and his fondness for his characters gives dimension to his mordant wit. A highly recommended highlight of 2010.    -John

A Gate at the Stairs A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore’s new novel, A Gate at the Stairs, is funny, sad, smart and touching. Full of sly and insightful observations that only this author could capture in her own personal style, Moore tackles many of the hot button issues of the day. Politics, family, and social mores are craftily enclosed in a somewhat modest coming of age story that grabs you with its pithy language. New in paperback, this was one of highlights of literary fiction in 2009.  -John

 

 Homer & Langley                      Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow

A masterful, intimate work of historical imagination concerning the lives of the infamous Collyer brothers. Both funny and haunting, often at the same time, Homer & Langley are pack rats and general recluses. Despite their best efforts, the outside world intrudes on their life in unexpected ways, though the tragic outcome of their story has already been determined. -John 

  

   

A Free LifeA Free Life by Ha Jin   

Ha Jin's A Free Life is a wonderfully meticulous and subtle account of a Chinese family's experience as immigrants in the United States. The author avoids melodrama, in favour of a deliberately paced accounting of the banal details of life's everyday struggles. This thoroughness may not provide a conventionally satisfying dramatic arc but it does authentically portray the rhythms of life and is genuinely moving in this respect. A rich book with a power that sneaks up on you. -John

 

 

 
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