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Staff Picks

Talking Into The Ear of A Donkey

ISBN-13: 9780393343649
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company, 11/2012

Robert Bly’s most recent book Talking Into the Ear of a Donkey contains poems that range from insight fully humorous to wildly precious observations of what being human entails.  He is this year’s recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s most prestigious award the “Frost Medal” for “ distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.”


The Book Thief

The Book Thief (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780375842207
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9/2007

If there was ever a book that stood the test of time, The Book Thief is it. Since its publication in the U.S. in 2007 it has spent  over 400 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List, been translated into 40 languages and continues to sell regularly – over 850 copies to date. The intricate story about life and death in World War II Germany is intriguing in itself. But just select any page and bask in Zusak’s language. It is an astonishing and lovely experience.



Patrick Melrose Novels

ISBN-13: 9780312429966
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador, 1/2012

The "Melrosian" - or five short novels centered on the life of Patrick Melrose - is a powerful and ambitious novel cycle based loosely on the author's own life.  Elegantly written and powerfully controlled, it is serious, and sometimes heartbreaking, yet also laugh out loud funny in its pithy observations of the lives of privilege and wealth.  The sort of read that remains with you once the book is done.


Suite Francaise

Suite Francaise (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781400096275
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 4/2007

Russian born Irene Nemirovsky became a best-selling author in France after World War I with her popular fiction.  Written in 1940, Suite Francaise is composed in real time  - just as the Nazis began to overrun France – and Nemirovsky stated that her goal was to describe daily life just as it happened.  She planned a series of five novels; however, she never lived to see any of them published and it was only after a long-lost trunk was found by her daughters that this manuscript was discovered.  With her insightful observations of French life disrupted, Suite Francaise is at times amusing, but more than anything, terrifying.


Magician's Assistant

ISBN-13: 9780156006217
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books, 9/2004

It's hard to select only ONE pick of the decade, but I revisit Patchett's book quite often: What if, after 22 years, you find out that the person you've loved isn't the man you thought he was? When Sabine's magician husband dies, she discovers how he was most adept at making his past disappear. Wonderful characters, breathtaking prose.


The Moonflower Vine

The Moonflower Vine (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780061673238
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial, 4/2009

The Moonflower Vine is about a family gathering to celebrate their parents’ marriage. Four girls come of age in Depression-era Missouri; author Jetta Carleton lays bare their secrets, their shames and the love that pulses through their veins. She crafts for them rich interior lives showing how each is touched by and wields passions with the power to redefine their lives. It's one of those special books I just want to press into the hands of everyone I know.


Big Machine

Big Machine (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780385527996
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau, 3/2010

I recommend this book constantly. Despite how strange it is, I think it fits into the tastes of many different readers. I love how it starts out just a little strange with a mysterious message and a bus ticket and accumulates weirdness as the book progresses. But Lavallee has done more than just write a weird, quirky novel. He’s told a powerful story of redemption and recovery that should be thought of as a modern classic.


Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780143039235
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics, 6/2005

One of the most heartrending and “romantic” memoirs of World War I. Testament of Youth is a classic, first published in 1933, among the literature of  the Great War, in its description of the impact of the war on women and the middle class. The unimaginable loss and sacrifice of a generation is rendered  beautifully through Brittain’s words. Her experiences as a volunteer nurse (VAD) in the armed services, a university student before and after the war, and a  tireless advocate for peace and feminist causes make this a defining and timeless work. A film version of Brittain’s work releases in the UK  in 2015.


Everything I Never Told You

ISBN-13: 9781594205712
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press HC, The, 6/2014

A completely captivating and suspenseful story of tragedy and loss for a lonely Asian-American family in 1977 Ohio. 'Lydia is dead', the adored middle daughter; and the mystery surrounding her death shapes the personal histories of her parents, Marilyn and John, as well as Lydia's brother Nathan and sister Hannah. They each have secrets and sorrows and dreams, some shocking, some familiar, all riveting and unforgettable. Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You will resonate and leave you wanting more from this marvelous local author.



Feed (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780763662622
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick, 9/2012

Written several years before Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or Reddit existed, M.T. Anderson’s Feed predicted all the issues that have come to plague social networks, from commercialization and loss of privacy to constant connectivity and neurological dependence. A brilliant and moving page-turner.


The Illusion of Separateness

ISBN-13: 9780062248459
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial, 7/2014

Even at the moment when we feel most alone, we are connected to someone, somewhere. Simon Van Booy reminds us of our overlapping lives, and humanity in this captivating, beautifully written book.



Insel (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781612193533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House, 5/2014

An unjustly lost masterpiece of art, ideals, and philosophy by one of the important American writers you might not have heard of. Mina Loy was an influential modernist poet and surrealist artist, who is due for a major revival. Insel brings together her poetic talents and her artistic vision into one blistering, intellectual novel and will hopefully re-introduce America to one of its forgotten masters.


Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces

ISBN-13: 9781451678741
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster, 7/2014

Michelangelo’s impossibilities (antisocial as well as artistic)are the reason we think of an "artist" as other than an anonymous skilled laborer. Arranged around 6 major works, Unger's book beautifully blends history (bad popes, Medicis) biography and perceptive analysis. A fascinating study of an artist and his time (the High Renaissance - with Leonardo, Machiavelli, Raphael, Vasari etc.) regardless of your aesthetic.


All the Light We Cannot See

ISBN-13: 9781476746586
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company, 5/2014

I bypassed this book originally because I have had my fill of World War II books, but decided to read it when I heard the rumor (false), that the author is related to writer Harriet Doerr. I’m glad I changed my mind! All the Light We Cannot See weaves together interesting characters, a captivating plot, beautifully rendered settings, a lyrical writing style and multiple layers of metaphor and meaning into an imminently readable and unforgettable novel.


Porter Square Bookstore Book Group

Accidents of Marriage

ISBN-13: 9781451673043
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books, 9/2014

Maddy Illica’s husband Ben shouts and throw things, but he’s not dangerous, not like the husbands of the battered women she counsels. Or so she thinks. Then one day he does more damage to her and their family than she could ever imagine. A deeply moving look at the destructive power of emotionally abusive relationships, and the lies and secrets that drive them.


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