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Home > For Book Lovers... > Staff Picks

Staff Picks

Staff members of the Boca Raton Public Library share some of their favorite books...
(click on a book cover or title for a link to the online catalog)

Recommended by Laura S., Circulation Services:

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book / Diane Muldrow.

A whimsical guide to life for adult fans of classic Little Golden Books combines lighthearted advice with nostalgic illustrations that convey such nuggets of wisdom as "Don't forget to enjoy your wedding!," "Be a hugger," and "Sweatpants are bad for morale."

Recommended by Laura S., Circulation Services:

A Jane Austen Education : How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter / William Deresiewicz

Austen scholar Deresiewicz turns to the author's novels to reveal the remarkable life lessons hidden within. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his own experiences to demonstrate the enduring power of Austen's teachings.

Also recommended by Laura S.:
Downton Abbey, Season 1-4 [DVD]
Cedar Cove Book Series by Debbie Macomber

Recommended by Chris, Instructional Services:

God On The Rocks / Jane Gardam

Originally published in Great Britain in 1978, the novel describes Margaret Marsh's coming of age one summer between the world wars. Caught in the backwash of a fervently religious father, a mother bitterly nostalgic for what might have been, the tea and sympathy of some thoroughly secular neighbors and the bawdy jokes of her nanny Lydia, Margaret's world hurtles towards a shattering moment of truth. Drama, tragedy and a touch of farce lend themselves to Gardam's typically eloquent prose.

Recommended by Chris, Instructional Services:

Long Way From Verona / Jane Gardam

"I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal having had a violent experience at the age of nine." Jessica Vye's violent experience colors her schooldays and her reaction to the world around her - a confining world of Order Marks, wartime restrictions, viyella dresses, nicely-restrained essays and dusty tea shops. For Jessica she has been told that she is beyond all possible doubt, a born writer.

Recommended by Chris, Instructional Services:

Sacred And Profane Love Machine / Iris Murdoch

A writer of detective fiction who has not recovered from the loss of his wife becomes involved in the life of a neighbor's family.

Recommended by Chris, Instructional Services:

The Nazi Officer's Wife : How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust / Edith Hahn Beer

Edith Hahn tells how she survived the Holocaust, first by going underground, using a Christian friend's identity papers, and eventually marrying Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who knew she was Jewish.

Recommended by Oyuki, Program Services:

The Bone Clocks / David Mitchell

A vast, intricate novel that weaves six narratives and spans from 1984 to the 2030s about a secret war between a cult of soul-decanters and a small group of vigilantes called the Night Shift who try to take them down. An up-all-night story that fluently mixes the super-natural, sci-fi, horror, social satire, and hearbreaking realism.

Recommended by Oyuki, Program Services:

Eleanor & Park / Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits - smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Recommended by Oyuki, Program Services:

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead / Sheryl Sandberg

In "Lean In", Sheryl Sandberg - Facebook COO and one of "Fortune" magazine's most powerful women in business - looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale. She draws on her own experiences working in some of the world's most successful businesses, as well as academic research, to find practical answers to the problems facing women in the workplace.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services:

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons / Sam Kean

Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike - strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents - and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. Parents suddenly couldn't recognize their own children. Pillars of the community became pathological liars. Some people couldn't speak but could still sing. Sam Kean explains the brain's secret passageways and recounts forgotten tales of the ordinary people whose struggles, resilience, and deep humanity made modern neuroscience possible.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services:

Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero / Douglas Perry

A wide-ranging portrait of the legendary leader of the Untouchables traces his years after his famous confrontation with Al Capone, documenting his efforts to end corruption in Cleveland and his achievements throughout the Torso Murderer case.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services:

In the Kingdom of Ice / Hampton Sides

A dramatic account of the ill-fated 19th-century naval expedition to the North Pole cites the contributions of German cartographer August Peterman, New York Herald owner James Gordon Bennett and famed naval officer George Washington De Long in the team's efforts to survive brutal environmental conditions.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services:

The Grand Budapest Hotel [DVD]

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune.

Recommended by Shiloh, Youth Services:

Skink, No Surrender / Carl Hiaasen

To avoid being shipped off to boarding school, Malley takes off with some guy she met online. Richard knows his cousin's in trouble before she does. Wild Skink - the ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida - is enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Recommended by Shiloh, Youth Services:

Al Capone Shines My Shoes / Gennifer Choldenko

Moose Flanagan, who lives on Alcatraz along with his family and the families of the other prison guards, is frightened when he discovers that noted gangster Al Capone, a prisoner there, wants a favor in return for the help that he secretly gave Moose.

Recommended by Shiloh, Youth Services:

Top Secret Twenty-One / Janet Evanovich

Trenton, New Jersey's favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he's out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in.

Recommended by Patricia, Instructional Services:

Blue is the Warmest Color [DVD; in French with English subtitles]
Blue is the Warmest Color / Julie Maroh [graphic novel]

The library owns Julie Maroh's graphic novel, a very feminine, coming of age, love story written in 2013, which became a huge success worldwide. For me it was a nicely crafted easy read! Because of its popularity, the novel inspired controversial film director Abdellatif Kechiche to adapt the novel into film. Kechiche's film won the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013, and because of the intensity of the scenes, the festival's organizers awarded the Palm d'Or not only to the director, as it is traditionally done, but also to actresses Lea Seydoux (The Grand Budapest Hotel / The Beautiful Person / Farewell My Queen) and Adèle Exarchopoulos, who at the time was a novice actress. The film is beautifully filmed and explores the daily life of a teenaged French girl, who is in the process of choosing careers while managing her love-life. The graphic novel and the film share story structure, but differ in endings, which is a treat for anyone who loves this story!

Recommended by Patricia, Instructional Services:

The Grand Budapest Hotel [DVD]

The last film by Wes Anderson did not disappoint! It has a cast of actors & characters, who regularly participate in his other films (Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Jason Shwartzman, etc.), and like all his other films, Anderson's magical sets really transport the audience into an Alpine world.

Recommended by Jean, Circulation Services:

Island / Aldous Huxley

The author's last novel introduces a supposedly Utopian Pacific island where drug use and open sex are encouraged, and children are not at the mercy of one set of parents. In Island, his last novel, Huxley transports us to a Pacific island where, for 120 years, an ideal society has flourished. Inevitably, this island of bliss attracts the envy and enmity of the surrounding world. A conspiracy is underway to take over Pala and events begin to move when an agent of the conspirators, a newspaperman named Faranby, is shipwrecked there. What Faranby doesn't expect is how his time with the people of Pala will revolutionize all his values and - to his amazement - give him hope.

Recommended by Ken, Instructional Services:

One Summer: America, 1927 / Bill Bryson

Bryson chronicles the events and personalities of the summer of 1927, when Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, Ruth closed in on the home run record, Capone tightened his grip on bootlegging, the first true "talkie" was filmed, and Americans in general attempted and accomplished outsized things.

Recommended by Paris, Collection Services:

Magic Burns / Ilona Andrews

When mercenary Kate Daniels is hired to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she is plunged into the middle of an epic battle between two gods hoping for rebirth.

Recommended by Paris, Collection Services:

Ashfall / Mike Mullin

After the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano destroys his city and its surroundings, fifteen-year-old Alex must journey from Cedar Falls, Iowa, to Illinois to find his parents and sister, trying to survive in a transformed landscape and a new society in which all the old rules of living have vanished.

Recommended by Paris, Collection Services:

The Clockwork Prince / Cassandra Clare

As the Council attempts to strip Charlotte of her power, sixteen-year-old orphaned shapechanger Tessa Gray works with the London Shadowhunters to find the Magister and destroy his clockwork army, learning the secret of her own identity while investigating his past.

Recommended by Neil, Program Services:

When the World Spoke French / Marc Fumaroli

During the eighteenth century, from the death of Louis XIV until the Revolution, French culture set the standard for all of Europe. In Sweden, Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Russia, and Germany, among kings and queens, diplomats, military leaders, writers, aristocrats, and artists, French was the universal language of politics and intellectual life.

Recommended by Neil, Program Services:

Men and Wives / Ivy Compton-Burnett

At the center of this novel stands Harriet Haslam, the epitome of the maternal power figure, whose genuine but overpowering love dominates the novel and whose self-knowledge drives her into insanity. Even after her death Harriet continues to dominate.

Recommended by Neil, Program Services:

The Echoing Grove / Rosamond Lehmann

First published in 1953, The Echoing Grove is one of Rosamond Lehmann's most acclaimed novels, and tells of three characters, Rickie Masters, his wife Madeleine, and her sister Dinah. Rickie's premature death leaves the two sisters in uneasy communion, for his death has made widows of them both. For many years, Dinah, exotic and sensual, has conducted a clandestine affair with Rickie; and Madeleine, calm and resolute, has accepted that her marriage has been of limited success. With extraordinary insight, Lehmann explores the sublimity and the pain of these fatally interrelated lives in her magnifient novel.

Recommended by Neil, Program Services:

La collectionneuse [DVD; in French with English subtitles]

A witty and erotic look at the theme of resisting sexual temptations. Two older men spend their holidays in a house near St. Tropez with a beautiful young girl who collects men the way some people collect art. Both men try to resist being added to her collection, however, soon fall victim to her charm.

Recommended by Neil, Program Services:

The Thick of it. Seasons 1-4 [DVD]

Chronicles the blunders of the fictitious Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, a government department barely registering on the national radar. In this Ministry, every announcement is followed by a whirlwind of u-turns, every policy is a scramble and every mishap is met with abuse from the Prime Minister's policy enforcer.

Recommended by Neil, Program Services:

L'eclisse [DVD; in Italian with English subtitles]

The conclusion of Michelangelo Antonioni's informal trilogy on modern malaise, which began with L'avventura, L'eclisse (The Eclipse) tells the story of a young woman who leaves one lover only to drift into a relationship with another.

Also recommended by Neil:
Sally Can't Dance [CD] / Lou Reed
Rather Ripped [CD] / Sonic-Youth

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

The Red Tent / Anita Diamant

In a story based on the Book of Genesis, Jacob's only daughter, Dinah, shares her unique perspectives on the origins of many of our modern religious practices and sexual politics, eager to impart the lessons in endurance and humanity she has learned from her father's wives.

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

Franny and Zooey / J.D. Salinger

The author writes: Franny came out in The New Yorker in 1955, and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by Zooey. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, The Glasses.

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

Einstein's Dreams / Alan Lightman

Young Albert Einstein's dreams are imagined in a book that joins science and art to ponder such questions as the viscosity and flexibility of time.

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

The Fault in Our Stars / John Green

Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

If I Stay / Gayle Forman

While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weights whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

The Intouchables [DVD; in French with English subtitles]

An irreverent, uplifting comedy about friendship, trust, and human possibility. Based on a true story of friendship between a handicapped millionaire and his street-smart ex-con caretaker, The Intouchables depicts an unlikely camaraderie rooted in honesty and humor between two individuals who, on the surface, would seem to have nothing in common.

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

Starbuck [DVD; in French with English subtitles]

At 42, David lives the life of an irresponsible adolescent. He coasts through life with minimal effort and maintains a complicated relationship with Valerie, a young policewoman. Just as she tells him she's pregnant, David's past resurfaces. Twenty years earlier, he began providing sperm to a fertility clinic in exchange for money. He discovers he's the father of 533 children, 142 of whom have filed a class action lawsuit to determine the identity of their biological father.

Recommended by Melanie, Youth Services:

The Returned. Season 1 [DVD]

A seemingly random group of people find themselves in a state of confusion as they attempt to return home. What they don't know is that they have been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services:

Hostage Three / Nick Lake

Seventeen-year-old Amy, her father, and her stepmother becomes hostages when Somalian pirates seize their yacht, but although she builds a bond with one of her captors it becomes brutally clear that the price of life and its value are two very different things.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services:

Frozen / Melissa de la Cruz

More than a century after a catastrophic disaster wiped out most of humanity and covered much of the earth with ice, fifteen-year-old Cass yields to the voice in her head urging her to embark on a dangerous journey across a poisoned sea to the mythical land, Blue.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services:

The Art of Racing in the Rain / Garth Stein

Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher's soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe's maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services:

Mind of Winter / Laura Kasischke

On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens, the fragments of a nightmare - something she must write down - floating on the edge of her consciousness. Something followed them from Russia. On another Christmas morning thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric were in Siberia to meet the sweet, dark-haired Rapunzel they desperately wanted. How they laughed at the nurses of Pokrovka Orphanage #2 with their garlic and their superstitions, and ignored their gentle warnings. After all, their fairy princess Tatiana - baby Tatty - was perfect. As the snow falls, enveloping the world in its white silence, Holly senses that something is not right, has not been right in the years since they brought their daughter - now a dangerously beautiful, petulant, sometimes erratic teenager - home. There is something evil inside this house.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services:

Crow Blue / Adriana Lisboa

When her mother dies, thirteen-year-old Vanja is left with no family and no sense of who she is, where she belongs, and what she should do. Determined to find her biological father in order to fill the void that has so suddenly appeared in her life, Vanja decides to leave Rio de Janeiro to live in Colorado with her stepfather, a former guerrilla notorious for his violent past. From there she goes in search of her biological father, tracing her mother's footsteps and gradually discovering the truth about herself.