"Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood." – John Green

Many of our November staff picks will do just that!

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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316204378
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - April 7th, 2015

David's Staff Pick, November 2015:

This is my favorite book by Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath investigates how strengths and weaknesses are often perceived in our society. With a professional background in higher ed., I was particularly drawn to Gladwell’s analysis of how many first-year college students struggle during the college adjustment period. David and Goliath really puts into perspective the trap and toxicity of making relative comparisons.

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Heart of Darkness: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Joseph Conrad, Adam Hochschild (Introduction by), Maya Jasanoff (Afterword by), Timothy Hayes (Notes by), Mike Mignola (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143106586
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - August 28th, 2012

David's Staff Pick, November 2015:

Perhaps my favorite piece of classic literature, Conrad’s masterpiece is a brutal piece of self-reflection that transcends its colonial era setting.

As a café customer once said to me while I was making her a latte, “this is not a book for people who can’t handle the truth.” But despite its name, I find Heart of Darkness full of optimism.

Conrad builds upon the philosophy of complete self-determination; we are all things – both good and evil – and it is our duty to decide how to live.

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Above the Waterfall: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062349316
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - September 8th, 2015

Emily's Staff Pick, November 2015:

Above the Waterfall is a poetic, contemporary morality tale set in a small Appalachian town. Les, the local sheriff, is weeks away from retiring and weary from years on the front lines of the crystal meth boom devastating his hometown. His close friend and one-time lover, Becky, is a park ranger who continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress after surviving a school shooting as a young girl.

Gerald, an old timer with little left to live for except his deep friendship with Becky, shares a property boundary with a new and profitable fishing lodge. When the stream running through the resort is poisoned and brook trout wash onto the banks belly-up, Gerald is the primary suspect. Becky stands by Gerald as she realizes their relationship is the closest thing to family she has had since her grandparents died years before.

As sheriff, Les’ longtime loyalty to folks in his town is tested and strained. He blurs the lines between what the law dictates and what he knows is right and true.  His actions forced me to return to the classic questions: Does the end justify the means? Can a person be redeemed?


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Playing with Fire Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101884348
Availability: Special Order
Published: Ballantine Books - October 27th, 2015

Shane's Staff Pick, November 2015:

This work of fiction takes place in modern day, between the countries of America and Italy, switching between characters in Italy during the period of World War II.

Julia, a loving wife and mother, gets caught up in a spiral of chaos and confusion when she happens upon a violin piece titled Incendio in an antique shop in Italy. As she plays the piece strange things begin to happen not only to her, but to her daughter as well.

With Julia caught in a mess of mystery, the story switches to a young Italian boy named Lorenzo and the story of his own ‘Demons.’

With time closing in on both of them it’s up to Julia to solve and put to rest the ‘Demons’ haunting Lorenzo for the sake of their sanity, and to stop the spread of this terrible chaos before it engulfs others.

As a lover of fiction and mystery I enjoyed reading this till the very end, and truth be told I couldn’t put it down. Interesting and suspenseful in every sense of the word!


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The Japanese Lover: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501116971
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Atria Books - November 3rd, 2015

Virgies's Staff Pick, November 2015:

This love story takes place in the present day, with flashbacks to the WWII era. It centers around two women.

Alma is an elderly, Jewish woman who, as a child, escaped to the USA prior to the German invasion of Poland. She is now a “client” at the Lark House nursing home.

Irina is a young immigrant from Moldova and is Alma’s caregiver at Lark House.

Irina develops a relationship with Alma’s grandson, Seth. Together they set out on a quest to discover who’s been sending Alma suspicious letters and gifts. They eventually discover Alma’s Japanese clandestine lover, Ichimei Fukuda.

The plot thickens when several more characters, each having intriguing life stories of their own are introduced. The author cleverly brings all characters together, as relevant influences in each other's lives. I guess this is an example of being here for a purpose!

I enjoyed learning about the Japanese internment camps in the US during WWII. Very interesting.

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062294418
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - November 10th, 2015

Virgies's Staff Pick, November 2015:

Mitch Albom fans, this one’s for you!

This is the fictional story of Frankie Presto, the greatest guitar player on Earth. The story is narrated by music and begins at his funeral, where famous musicians talk about their connection to Frankie. Music fills in the gaps of his life story. Somehow, six lives are altered by Frankie’s six magical guitar strings.

The plot is intriguing!

In a way, this is the story of Rock and Roll. Whether you are a music buff, or not, you will enjoy hearing about those Rock and Roll stars. Many may have been your idols!

This is also a tender, but complicated love story. Metaphors comparing music to life abound in this novel, which make the story even more meaningful.

I grew to love the character of Frankie Presto. His story did not make me cry … I sobbed!

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How to Babysit a Grandma Cover Image
By Jean Reagan, Lee Wildish (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780385753845
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - March 25th, 2014

Virgies's Staff Pick, November 2015:

“When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky … It’s a sleepover at her house. When she opens the door, shout "Grandma, your babysitter is here.” And thus, the fun begins!

This is the perfect book for those grandkids who come over to spend the night. My two year old grandson loved it. The creative activities discussed speak to those little ones.

But beware… if you do even half of the things suggested in this book, you’ll need a nap!

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Purity: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374239213
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 1st, 2015

Jamie's Staff Pick, November 2015:

Revolving around some of the central themes of our generation, Purity transports the reader to East Germany, to Bolivia, to San Francisco, and even to Denver.

The novel claims to be the story of a young girl searching for her father, but it is truly a story of so many people, of the quiet desperation of American lives, of the burden of secrets and love.

The world of Franzen’s novel is both familiar and foreign, creating well-developed and intriguing characters. His portraits of marriage are authentic and deeply felt.

What I like most about this novel is the hopeful feelings surrounding Pip, who Franzen created as one of her first truly likable and memorable millennials.

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Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books Cover Image
By Cara Nicoletti, Marion Bolognesi (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780316242998
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown and Company - August 18th, 2015

Jamie's Staff Pick, November 2015:

Combining my two all-time favorite things, books and food, Voracious is not only funny and interesting but a very beautiful book illustrated with these lovely watercolor paintings of different foods.

It will make a great gift for the coffee table or the kitchen, and it’s for both readers and eaters alike!

Cara tells funny personal stories and also has a great blog and Instagram account that chronicle her foodie/literary adventures. Enjoy this feast for the eyes.

The ONLY disappointment is that there is nothing from Little Women in here! Oh well, I’ll save that for my own book.

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Felicity: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594206764
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - October 13th, 2015

Jamie's Staff Pick, November 2015:

I wish I could live in these poems. I feel like Mary Oliver wrote them just for me (but everyone will feel that way).

The first poem is called “Don’t Worry” and it goes:

“Things take the time they take. Don’t worry.
How many roads did St. Augustine follow
Before he became St. Augustine?”

That’s the whole poem

I love Mary Oliver and everything she writes, but this book is especially full of little gems. And they’re all so happy!

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My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method Cover Image
By Jim Lahey, Rick Flaste (With)
ISBN: 9780393066302
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 5th, 2009

Jamie's Staff Pick, November 2015:

This is my bread that I bake all the time and the recipe that I really love!

And this book is beautiful and comes with all different ways to make this super-easy bread.

The focaccia bread is especially easy and yummy, and all of these recipes can have all kinds of different herbs or ingredients added to them!

For winter, fresh bread that’s less expensive, and more wholesome than store-bought bread is the absolute best!

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The Witches: Salem, 1692 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316200608
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - October 27th, 2015

Chris' Staff Pick, November 2015:

The Witches is an in-depth story of the Salem Witch Trails of 1692.

The author, Stacy Schiff, does a wonderful job of portraying not only the events that lead up to this dark moment in our history but truly defining the underlying issues of the time.

She makes this read almost like a novel. With her thorough research and her own personal desire to hold all the original documents, she has brought forth this very dark story to the current light.

After you read this, you should read The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent.

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Dewey Bob Cover Image
By Judy Schachner, Judy Schachner (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780803741201
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - September 8th, 2015

Chris' Staff Pick, November 2015:

This is a wonderful, fun new book from the creator of Skippy Jon Jones. Dewy Bob is a raccoon who loves to collect things as he tries to collect friends. He has to learn how you make friends, not collect them!

I just love the way she has put this book together.

November 2015 Staff Picks