Staff Picks

The Ninth : Beethoven and the World in 1824

The Ninth : Beethoven and the World in 1824 Book Cover

Beethoven's 9th Symphony remains one of the most precedent-shattering and influential compositions in the history of music. It amazed and confused listeners at its premier in Vienna yet became a standard for subsequent generations of creative artists. The author treats this subject as part biography, part history, and part memoir - and explores the amazing talent of a composer who was already deaf but could produce such a masterpiece. Not an easy read but worth the effort.

City of Thieves

City of Thieves Book Cover

Set during the Siege of Leningrad in WWII, City of Thieves is narrated through Lev, a young man caught looting a dead German soldier and his friendship with Kolya, a deserter of the Red Army. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are sent on an impossible mission to find two dozen eggs in Leningrad for the wedding of a colonel’s daughter. This journey of Lev and Kolya’s is one of humor, adventure, and tragedy as it keeps the reader guessing as to what Lev and Kolya will go through next in their mission to not only find two dozen eggs but save their lives as well.

The Cruelest Miles

The Cruelest Miles Book Cover

This is one of the best books that I have read recently. It is the true story of an outbreak of diptheria in Nome, Alaska in 1925. During winter, Nome is completely isolated from the rest of the world, the only access is by dog sled over hundreds of miles of frozen tundra, across mountains and water. In order to get the life-saving serum to Nome's dying children, a relay of mushers and dog teams is organized to transport the medicine, at great danger to the men and dogs involved. It is an amazing and heart-warming tale of man's and dog's courage in the face of almost unimaginable conditions.

Turtle in Paradise

Turtle in Paradise Book Cover

A touching historical fiction book told from the perspective of spunky 11-year-old “Turtle”. As Turtle's mother takes on a new job that will not allow children, she is sent to live with her family in Florida, who she does not know. When Turtle arrives she is convinced that she will not like anything about Florida or her family. As Turtle discovers, her adventure is just beginning and nothing is quite what it seems.

The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients Book Cover

Bauermeister spent time in Italy with her family and picked up a love of “slow food.” Her descriptions of food and cooking will make your mouth water. This is the story of a chef, Lillian who has her own restaurant and offers Monday night cooking classes. Eight very different students gather for different reasons to learn to cook. The recipes they make come from the different needs and desires of the students. This book is a quick read and a treat for the soul.

Bringing Up Bébé

Bringing Up Bébé Book Cover

Druckerman gives us an interesting look into French parenting techniques and insight into striving for autonomy in children at an early age. She and her British husband are living in Paris indefinitely and during that time they have 3 children. She notices how French children seem to behave better, need less attention and are still very happy. They sleep through the night at an early age, are pleasant at meal times, eat their vegetables without a fuss and never whine! This sparked my interest and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at parenting in a different way. Although it is considered a parenting book, the author makes it very interesting by using her own experiences and insight into the trials and joyful times in her day to day life.

The Story of Lucy Gault

The Story of Lucy Gault Book Cover

The lives of a family in 1920’s Ireland are changed forever when the 9yr old daughter cannot bear the thought of leaving their home when they are forced to move, and runs away, leading her parents to believe she has tragically drowned. The story is beautifully written by Trevor, covering the themes of love, guilt, and forgiveness.

The Street Sweeper

The Street Sweeper Book Cover

This is the remarkable story of intertwining lives dealing with a man recently released from prison, a Holocaust survivor he befriends, a history professor from Columbia Univ., and the effects their lives have on each other in unimaginable ways. You may be surprised at how it will affect you. Highly recommended.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Book Cover

This is the story of a young boy (Oskar) who lost his beloved father on Sept 11th. He finds a key among his father's things and begins to believe that if he can find the lock which is opened by his key, he will have a greater understanding of his father. He makes a plan to visit all of the people with the last name of Black in New York City. As we follow him in his quest, we also learn the story of his grandparents who survived the bombing of Dresden. It is a sad book and sometimes a bit difficult to read because Oskar has a mild form of autism and the story of the grandparents goes back and forth in time, but Oskar touches your heart from the beginning and you really want his story to have a happy ending.

Divergent

Divergent Book Cover

In a future society, sixteen year old Beatrice Prior must choose one of five factions where she will spend the rest of her life. Each faction is devoted to a specific virtue: Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peace), and Erudite (knowledge). Her decision is complicated during a test each sixteen year old takes that tells them which faction they would best fit in with. For Beatrice the results are inconclusive and she is warned not to revel this to anyone or risk death. As Beatrice struggles to come to terms with what her test results mean and her future she discovers that the society she lives in is not as perfect as it seems. Reminiscent of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, this is recommended for teens that enjoy dystopian fiction.