Staff Picks: February 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Book Cover

Sixteen-year-old Jacob no longer believes the stories his grandfather told him when he was a little boy. Fairy tales about children with mysterious abilities, such as a girl who could levitate, a boy with bees living inside him, and a girl who can start fires with her hands. He decides that Grandpa's sepia-toned photographs of his strange friends must be fake. When his grandfather is mysteriously murdered, Jacob travels to the island where the stories took place and finds, not only the children, but the truth about himself. This first novel should appeal to readers who like quirky fantasies with a touch of horror. Grade 8 - adult.

Hunger makes me a modern girl

Hunger makes me a modern girl Book Cover

Before reading Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, I - like many others, I'm sure - only knew Carrie Brownstein from IFC's absurdist masterpiece Portlandia. I did know that she was once in a punk band, but I didn't know any other details from Brownstein's earlier life. It speaks to the transcendent, heartbreaking nature of the themes in this book that despite going in mostly blind, I was more moved by this memoir than by any other I've read in recent years. In this book, Brownstein lets you into the explosive, transformative, complicated world of the Riot Grrl movement, of Olympia and Portland during the 1990's. She demystifies and contradicts the perceived glamour of being in a successful touring band, even as she details how those few moments onstage each night were what temporarily obliterated her anxieties and fears, her loneliness, and made it all worth it. She writes about her life the same way she plays guitar and sings in her band, Sleater Kinney: masterfully, all cards on the table, allowing for and celebrating imperfection. I find it hard to imagine that any reader would not find something in this memoir that speaks deeply to them, or would not see something of themselves in Carrie Brownstein's candor, vulnerability, humor, and hunger for something nameless. This book has stayed with me long after I finished the last page.