Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beyond the "New" Shelf: Tried and True Staff Picks

One of the greatest pleasures of working at the library is the book recommendations between fellow staff members and our patrons. Over the years we have each built lists of titles that we like to share and hope others will enjoy as well. Many of the titles we suggest have long been removed from “new” status and rest patiently among thousands of other buried treasures on our library shelves waiting to be read again. 

Below is a sampling from my eclectic list:

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch is a good place to begin. Wendy Welch beat the odds when she opened a small bookstore in Appalachia during a time when bookstores were closing nationwide. The author shares how she overcame a myriad of obstacles and comical situations to fulfill her dream of owning a bookstore and building a community.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell will leave you guessing right until the last page. The story revolves around Rose, a naive (or is she?) police stenographer at the height of prohibition in New York. When a new and very flamboyant stenographer, Odalie, enters the scene a dangerous obsession develops. As their lives become entwined, Rose is enraptured by the prohibition underworld - with deadly consequences. 

Sena Jeter Naslund brings to life the wife of Captain Ahab (of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick) in her enthralling saga, Ahab’s Wife: or The Star Gazer. It is a moving story that spans the life of an intelligent and strong woman triumphing over tragedy. Full of adventure and memorable characters Ahab’s Wife will draw you in to 19th century Nantucket and beyond. 

Similarly, Seven Locks by Christine Wade tells the story of the poor wife of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle. While it is not necessary to be familiar with Irving’s folktale of the lackadaisical farmer who abandons his family, you may enjoy that little gem as well. Wade’s writing will set you adrift on the Hudson River to the pre-revolutionary war Catskill Mountains to ponder what drove poor Rip into the woods. Maybe it was  the fear of things to come or his wife’s incessant nagging.  As his disappearance spans from days to years, the reader gains insight and comes to know the family he left behind.

Which brings to mind another mountain story: Many authors, from time to time, take a leap from their popular style of writing and delight us with the unexpected. So it is with David Baldacci, legal thriller superstar, who gives us Wish You Well. Baldacci, who has family ties to the Virginia mountain region, tells the story of two young siblings who must move from the big city to their grandmother’s home in the southwestern Virginia coal country. Here, the children learn some hard lessons about what is truly important in life and grow to appreciate their grandmother, her mountain and her post-depression era lifestyle. 

So many recommendations; so little blog space! 

Watch for more staff recommendations coming soon to Book Notes as staff shares more of their favorites! 

Julia @ Warrenton

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