Staff Picks of 2018

Woman in the Window
by A.J. Finn Maryann B.
In an Absent Dream
by Seanan McGuireThis is the 4th book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire and I am still completely in love with the characters and the world she’s writing.If you want to start at the beginning, the other books are:

  1. Every heart a doorway
  2. Down among the sticks and bones
  3. Beneath the sugar sky

– Adam

The Power
by Naomi Alderman– Adam
by Jonathan FranzenThis really long and somewhat meandering books was still one of my favorite pieces of fiction I read this year. I am just in awe of authors like Franzen, who just have so much to say about certain characters or events. The characters he creates and the stories he tells stick with you and seem very believable even when extreme things are happening. I really liked his main character, despite her many flaws, and was kept interested by the story line that spanned decades. It was also a surprisingly quick read for such a long novel.– Shelly
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
by Ayelet WaldmanThis book really made you think about different kinds of love: love between partners, love between parents/stepparents and their children, and love related to loss. It was interesting also in that the reader often feels annoyed, enamored, and sorry for with the main character, depending on the page. At the end, you find yourself rooting for everyone all together and really feeling like you’re hoping for a good outcome for your friend. As with all of Waldman’s books, her writing is great and easy to read — a rare combination.– Shelly
Beautiful Ruins
by Jess Walter– Regan
Washington Black
by Esi Edugyan– Maryann R.
The Italian Teacher
by Tom Rachman– Maryann R.
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones– Maryann R.
by Madeline Miller– Maryann R.
The Maze at Windermere
by Gregory Blake Smith– Maryann R.
The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai– Maryann R.

Bad Blood
by John Carreyrou Sew Yeng
Lost Connection
by Johann Hari–Sew Yeng
Hillbilly Elegy
by J.D. Vance Sew Yeng
Selling Sickness:
How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients
by Ray Moynihan and Alan CasselsThe title almost says it all, but basically, the authors’ view is that drug companies first cultivate the market by creating a grassroots campaign about a new sickness or disorder; and then create the marketing campaign to sell the drug which will “fix” that sickness. We know that many people greatly benefit by medications; but a greater amount of people begin to see a “risk factor” they may have as a disorder which requires medication, thus creating an enormous market and enormous profits for the pharma companies. And there’s more… Donna
It’s Not You, It’s the Dishes:
How to Minimize Conflict and Maximize Happiness in Your Relationship
(originally published as Spousenomics)
by Paula Szuchman & Jenny AndersonI am actually in the middle of reading this book a second time — I read it once and now I am going back and literally taking notes! It somehow makes two seemingly boring topics — marital woes and economics — seem interesting and understandable. The authors go through real economic theories and tie them to creating better relationships. Even as I type this, it seems like the book should be boring or not really applicable to the average couple…but it’s super interesting, helpful, and applicable to anyone!– Shelly
Bad Mother:
A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace
by Ayelet WaldmanThis is my favorite piece of work by Waldman. It’s basically taking the Modern Love essay that made her well-known and expanding it into a fascinating anthology of essays relating to parenthood and love. When I was going over reviews of her work to write this, I read someone describe her as “smart, loud, oversharing, opinionated, funny, quirky and contradictory” and that really says it all. Waldman is genuinely fun to read and level-headed in a crazy world. Her honesty, in all types of writing, is refreshing.– Shelly
What Happened
by Hillary Rodham ClintonI honestly debated sitting this book out, for fear it would just make me sad and depressed. Of course, it was absolutely heartbreaking at times. Overall it made me more angry than sad. But, surprisingly, it was also full of hope and insight and positivity. While I’ll never run for president, I will face the kind of backlash and criticism that Clinton went into detail to explain. She offers positive perspectives, honesty in her disappointment, and inspiration to try and make things better. She also uses others’ quotes to illustrate many of her great points.– Shelly
This Close to Happy:
A Reckoning with Depression
by Daphne MerkinThis was another book that had the potential to be sad and make you feel empty while reading, but actually filled me with hope and kind of a relief that I wasn’t alone. This book is a memoir of the author’s depression, from its roots in her girlhood to her hospitalizations as an adult. It talked through her whole history honestly and without whining. It’s a solid read for anyone who has been depressed, or had someone they love be depressed — which I’d have to think is most of the population.– Shelly
Order of Time
by Carlo Rovelli Regan
The Last Black Unicorn
by Tiffany Haddish– Regan
Dying To Be Me:
My Journey From Cancer, To Near Death, To True Healing
by Anita Moorjani– Neera
Educated: A Memoir
by Tara Westover– Neera
Funny in Farsi
by Firoozeh Dumas– Amber

Akata Warrior
by Nnedi OkoraforSome reviews have called this the “African Harry Potter”, which does a disservice to this series. Book one was Akata witch, and that book alone established a rich world of magic populated by interesting characters, all of which stands on its own. The “adolescent magician learning their power” is a familiar place to start, but these books dig into an original mythology like you haven’t seen before.– Adam
Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky AlbertalliI picked up Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens agenda because I tend to read books as their movie adaptions come out. It was a nice romantic comedy, but I kind of like Leah a bit more than Simon. Well, I happen to be in luck because she has her own spinoff. It had more angst than Simon did, but she felt realer for it. And it was interesting to see the author play with a hidden identity from a different perspective.– Adam