Staff Picks (hidden for now because we need fresh contributions)
Neuroscientist Lisa Genova has written this novel bringing attention to the lethal neurodegenerativedisease called Huntington’s.There is no current treatment or cure for this disease. This story is about Joe O’Brien who is a 44 year old police officer who begins to display uncharacteristic bouts of rage and uncontrolled movements. These symptoms make his family and his fellow officers think that he has either a drinking or a drug problem. Finally, his wife and his partner convince him to see a neurologist and this is when he is handed down the diagnosis. Joe and his wife Rose have four adult children who have a 50% chance of developing Huntington’s. Life continues in turmoil as he has to give up his job and tell his children that he has possibly given them this disease. Joe comes to realize that each moment is precious and with his self-awareness tries to comfort his family members. This novel skillfully emphasizes the emotional struggle of friends and family and how they try to pull together and live their lives.
Recommended by Lena Kilburn, Assistant Director
The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey
(Also available as an E-Book and Audiobook)
An immersive and breathtakingly thrilling read, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey tells the story of an alien invasion and the subsequent systematic annihilation of the human race, unleashed in four waves of destruction upon the Earth. Cassie, a 16-year-old girl who has managed to survive the first four waves, is left alone in a nightmarish world where the invaders have suddenly become indistinguishable from humans and no one can be trusted. Alone and devastated by the loss of her parents, she survives harrowing brushes with death, clinging to the hope that she will be reunited with her 6-year-old brother Sam.
When Cassie nearly dies from a gunshot by an invader, she is rescued and nursed back to health by a mysterious young man named Evan Walker. Though Evan has become the only person Cassie can possibly call a friend, she begins to notice unsettling peculiarities about him, which become increasingly difficult to ignore. Cassie must choose whether to trust Evan and accept his help in what seems the impossible task of rescuing her brother from an encampment controlled by, Cassie suspects, humans under alien mind control. Here the narrative begins to switch between Cassie and another young survivor, known as Zombie, also being held at this same encampment where he is being trained as a soldier, ostensibly to wage war on the invaders. As Cassie's and Zombie's narrative evolve, both are forced to question the true nature and intentions of those around them. Cassie finds her relationship with Evan growing more complex and Zombie begins to realize his mission is not what it appears. When their narratives meet in the novel's heart-stopping climax, both are forced to confront the horror of the fifth and final wave of annihilation already underway.
Though The 5th Wave has all the hallmarks of popular YA fiction, it differs from other post-apocalyptic YA books in its unrelenting detail and realism. Were it not for the young protagonists, this book could easily have been billed as a novel for adults. The novel evokes brutal images of post-apocalyptic destruction and it's unflinching in its depiction of human suffering, both emotional and physical. This grim backdrop however is tempered by Cassie's and Zombie's pitch-perfect adolescent voices, funny and smart and full of the unfailing drive and optimism that could arguably only be sustained in the face of such horrors by someone so young. Overall, The 5th Wave is a great story about survival and human resilience. I highly recommend it for readers of any age.
Recommended by Janet Drake, Borrower Services
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Why, when we tidy our homes, do we have so little time to enjoy our new clarity before the clutter comes bounding back? Marie Kondo knows what's going on. This world renowned tidiness guru tells why our usual ways of decluttering don't last and why her repeatedly proven way does. Based on her belief that clearing is for the person we are becoming, not for the person we used to be, the author guides us in refining our possessions to revitalize us in our relationship with our belongings. She shows that putting your home in order with the things that touch your heart is the magic that transforms a cluttered home into a space of serenity and inspiration.
Also available as an E-Book and Audiobook.
The Transition Companion by Rob Hopkins
If you have an interest in helping any community you're a part of, this is the gem you'll feel glad you found. Without sugar coating the grave problem of living beyond our earth's resources, every chapter offers examples of positive change and problem solving in moving away from fossil fuel dependency. With a positive viewpoint born from experience, The Transition Companion offers you help, hope, and problem solving tips to know the ways you can make a difference.
Recommended by Laraine Worby, Information and Research Services
These two novels, Nora Webster by Colm Toibin and We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas, feature Irish working class women, one in 1960's Ireland and one in mid-20th century New York. Their lives are somewhat parallel, with each finding their way as an independent woman and both making questionable choices in her journey.
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
Nora Webster's journey is one of mourning, healing and a slow awakening. As a young widow, she is living a lonely life, wanting only to protect and be surrounded by her children as she grieves and attempts to ignore the society around her. We realize that her whole life has been lived through her beloved husband, with opportunities unexplored and rejected, never having had a chance to form her own self or create her own life.
As she comes to terms with her new situation, she is slowly and cautiously drawn back into a world filled with outside relationships and interests. Through the re- discovery of her love of music she begins to find her own voice.
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
We Are Not Ourselves is both a tale of the changing landscape and values of middle class America in the late 20th century, and one of enduring familial love.
Eileen Leary, the main character at the heart of the novel, longs to leave behind the harsh, working class world in which she was raised. She marries a man, Ed, who she believes will facilitate that escape, and is disillusioned when she realizes that he is not interested in the upward climb that she desires.
A strong woman, Eileen embarks on the path to rising mobility anyway, with determination and fierceness. They have a son, Connell, who they both adore. Eileen is constantly pushing Connell academically while Ed is more affectionate.
Along the way, Ed begins to exhibit uncharacteristic, strange behavior and the family dynamic is altered dramatically. His decline occupies the final two-thirds of the novel, as Eileen and Connell struggle for normalcy, but the consequences of his disease are inevitable. Eileen soon learns that plans and dreams have no power over reality as she attempts to maintain his dignity and her control.
Recommended by Jennifer Tosti, Information and Research Services
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
A short but powerful read, this World War I novel tells the story of a shell-shocked soldier named Chris Baldry whose injury during the war leaves him with partial amnesia. After a concussion, Chris wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember anything from the past fifteen years of his life. His cousin Jenny and wife Kitty are strangers to him, but who he does remember is his first love, a woman from his past named Margaret Allington. More cheerful than ever, Chris eagerly telegrams the now Mrs. Margaret Grey to arrange for a meeting, despite not having spoken to her in over a decade. Shocked, Kitty and Jenny watch helplessly as he falls in love with Margaret all over again, as they are left wondering whether he was ever happy living with them in the first place, or if his amnesia unmasked the inner feelings he had been harboring all along.
Read Online: Project Gutenberg EBook
Recommended by Helen Lui, Borrower Services
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Inspiration comes from the least likely of characters in this story about a quadriplegic and his caretaker. What starts out as a menial job for Lou becomes an eye opening experience and the opportunity to discover a life beyond her small English town. The relationship between the two main characters is acerbic in the beginning but develops into one of mutual gratitude.