Staff Reads — Labor Day 2019

Book Projector Treble Clef

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  • The Behavior Of Love : A Novel by Virginia Reeves: Ed Malinowski is a psychiatrist who is determined to rehabilitate the developmentally disabled residents of an institution in Montana. He moves himself and his artistic wife to rural Montana and is enamored with one of the ‘inmates’, an epileptic named Penelope. He assures his wife that his interest in Penelope is only professional, but is it? We see the cracks and fissures in the marriage and watch to see what will happen. The character development and the story line in this novel is superb. I could not put it down.
  • Walking The Dog by Elizabeth Swados: Elizabeth Swados was a very eclectic and talented playwright and author, a five-time Tony nominee and the recipient of three Obie Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Ford grant, among numerous other honors. This novel is very interesting if you like extremely unconventional characters and if you read for character. The narrator is an extremely talented, upper class child who ends up serving a prison sentence after a botched robbery which left some officers of the law dead not by her hand I might add. Her parents, although wealthy, did not really like their daughter and I felt sympathy for her all the way through. Recommended for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh and Janet Fitch.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood and this novel does not disappoint. It is definitely a bit scary but so well done. The plot and the characters are very strong in this frightening tale of a patriarchy that has gone out of control.
  • The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood: This futuristic novel about a world that has gotten engulfed in crime and chaos and the seemingly wonderful Positron Project that combines working and prison for “the greater good” is horrifying and a little bit funny at the same time. Excellent plot line that will keep you reading. Has a kind of a Ray Bradbury tinge to it (and I am a big fan of Ray Bradbury as well).



  • Dutch House by Ann Patchett: I was very lucky to get an advanced copy of Patchett’s upcoming novel.  This novel, about two adult siblings, drawn to their childhood home from while they were exiled, is typical of Patchett in that the characters are unique and well drawn.
  • All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred Taylor: This upcoming novel, read courtesy of another advanced copy, is a long awaited entry in the Logan family saga (most well known from Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry).  I was pleased to read a new story from a series that I loved back in high school. 
  • The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory: Another great romance from Guillory!  I love how she turns romance tropes on their heads as well as including a diverse (and well rounded) set of characters.
  • Nothing by Annie Barrows, narrated by Arielle DeLisle: The voices of the two protagonists in this teen novel, seemed so real to me.  It seemed very authentic to what had been going through my head as a teenager.
  • Pulp by Robin Talley, narrated by Stephanie Cannon: This novel, alternating between present day and 1950s Washington DC and two teenage girls, Abby and Janet.  Present day Abby is very comfortable and has a lot of support being out while Janet has a much harder time in the 1950s.  Throughout the novel are analyses and history about lesbian pulp fiction of the 1950s and the lavender scare.  


  • We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter : Fans of Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy will love this novel. Set during WWII, it tells the story of Poland’s Kurc family during the Nazi takeover. The chapters skip back and forth among the siblings and parents and tell an incredible tale of ingenuity, grit, and luck across cities, countries, and years. You should read it knowing that the book is a retelling of an actual family’s experience, told by the granddaughter of one of the siblings. This was impossible to put down.
  • The Huntress by Kate Quinn: I can’t seem to get out of WWII. This is another novel that weaves the different story threads through multiple characters, eventually pulling them altogether. Set after the war, it features an American family, a group of Nazi hunters, and a Nazi murderer – a woman who was called The Huntress. I’ve read other books by this author, but this was the best so far. Another compulsive read
  • Betrayal in Time by Julie McElwain: I’m not a mystery reader, but I’m completely hooked on this series. This is the author’s 4th Kendra Donovan mystery and what I love is the historical fiction aspect. Kendra is a 21st century FBI agent who accidentally travels back to 19th century England where she ends up solving murders. What I love is the juxtaposition of Kendra – a kick ass woman of our time – to a time when women are marginalized citizens without professions or power. Kendra navigates it all with humor and dry sarcasm. There’s a nice little love story, too. 





  • The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay: This is a delight(!)ful collection of essays written about the small joys Gay observed over the course of a year, from gardening to watching a praying mantis to the use of air quotes. He does touch on some heavy topics as well, but the delights are the main focus. After reading it, I’ve found myself looking for the small delights in every day, and as cheesy as that sounds, it’s quite nice!
  • The Only Woman in the Room, by Marie Benedict: This work of historical fiction about film star Hedy Lamarr left me wanting to know more! It focuses on about a decade of her life, starting when she was a theater actress in Vienna, moving to her years spent married to a notorious Austrian arms dealer, and then her subsequent escape to America and rise in Hollywood. I knew vaguely before reading that Lamarr had invented something during World War Two, and this book showed just what a brilliant woman she was.
  • Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos, by Lucy Knisley: At one point in this graphic novel/memoir, Knisley points out that “motherhood, birth, and miscarriage are topics that are too often silenced or unaddressed (especially in comic books).” This book helps fill that gap, and does so powerfully. Knisley tells the story of her struggles to get pregnant, then chronicles her pregnancy and the birth of her son, sprinkling tidbits throughout on the history of and myths, misconceptions, and facts about motherhood.
  • An Age of License, Displacementand Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley: I enjoyed Kid Gloves so much that I decided I need to read more of Knisley’s books. These three – two travelogues and one foodie memoir – were all quick reads, and fun and touching in their own ways, but Kid Gloves is still my favorite of the lot. 
  • Choose Your Own Disaster: A. A Memoir, B. A Personality Quiz, C. A Mostly True and Completely Honest Look at One Young Woman’s Attempt to Find Herself, D. All of the above, by Dana Schwartz: The “choose your own adventure” style of this book is what caught my attention, but it was also what made me not like the book very much in the end. I had conveniently forgotten how much I didn’t like the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid – I loved them in theory, but in practice I couldn’t stop thinking about what I missed by choosing my own way, and was annoyed that I essentially had to read the book multiple times just to see what I might have missed. The same happened this time around. 


  • These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Stirling: First book in a long time that I could not put down. In this contemporary mystery/magical realism with a little bit of romance, Hannah is a teenage elemental witch living in Salem MA. After a bad breakup with her girlfriend, Hannah is just trying to spend the summer hanging with her best friend and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron. Until there is a blood sacrifice at the end of the school year bonfire. Someone bad is in town, and if Hannah doesn’t figure out who it is, she could be in trouble. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rich characters and storytelling. 
  • The Stories You Tell by Kristen Lepionka: I’m a big fan of Kristen Lepionka’s Roxane Weary novels. She’s a smart, whisky drinking PI who doesn’t always look after her own best interest, but can definitely be counted on in a crisis. While I can’t say this book is my favorite of the three, i’m definitely still looking forward to the next one. 
  • The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh: I really loved her first book, The Weight of Blood, and have been picking up anything she writes ever since. This story is told from the alternating points of view of two women, who do not even know each other, as one tries to uncover how her brother really died. Set in rural kansas, amid the opioid epidemic, this was an interesting mystery. It kept me hooked until the end. 
  • Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway: While this middle grade book tried to tackle a lot of issues; homelessness, mental illness, alcoholism, immigration… was an incredibly sweet read, and made me want pie. 
  • Vernonica Mars Season 4
  • Harlots, Season 3

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