Staff Picks

Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with your favorite literary characters by Mallory Ortberg

In this hilarious take on literary favorites, Mallory Ortberg holds imaginary and hilarious conversations via text message with everyone’s favorite characters and writers. From Achilles to Hamlet, Jessica Wakefield to Hermione Granger, Ortberg perfectly captures them in texts. This is a must read for literature lovers, English majors, and anyone who ever wanted to be best friends with a fictional character. 

Humor ORTBERG, M.

Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

This is the story of Amber Appleton, a relentlessly upbeat 17-year-old who engages daily in a strenuous and not always successful battle in the arena where "hope dukes it out with despair." Despair is wielding some pretty serious weapons, and for a while it seems like it might triumph, as a series of blows challenge Amber’s outlook. The story of how her friends try to bring her back to life is heart-aching and powerful (but not without humor!), and makes a wonderful, fresh and intense reading experience.

Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Caroline Funke

Emma and her dog find a floating bottle, and when she pulls the stopper, Emma releases a small, blue genie named Karim.  Karim can’t grant any wishes because an evil yellow genie stole his powerful nose ring.  Now he’s tiny and powerless.  He asks Emma to help him get back his nose ring and he whisks her off on his magic carpet to a city full of scorpions, turbans, desert sands, a dromedary and the evil genie, Sahim.

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada was born with a clubfoot.  Her single mother is ashamed and keeps her inside their cramped apartment at all times. It’s only when her little brother James starts going to school and exploring the neighborhood that Ada learns what happens beyond her walls. When the children of London are evacuated due to the German bombings during WWII, Ada runs away with her brother.  They are placed with a reluctant guardian, Susan, who is suffering with depression. 

I Stand Corrected: How Teaching Western Manners in China Became Its Own Unforgettable Lesson by Eden Collinsworth

Hired to write a book explaining Western etiquette to the Chinese, long-time businesswoman Collinsworth spent a year living in China, exploring the differences between the cultures and customs of China and the West. I Stand Corrected is a funny and entertaining story of her life in China, her struggle to explain Western customs to her Chinese readers and her explanation of the ways China changed in the past decade.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow lives a hard life as a Red, the lowest caste in his society. He works as a HellDiver in underground mines hoping to make Mars habitable for future generations. Through a tragic event, Darrow finds out that he is a slave and that Mars has been livable for hundreds of years. He and his people live below the surface of Mars and are slaves to a society ruled by the Golds. With the help from members of an underground rebellion, Darrow sacrifices everything to seek justice for the enslaved Reds. Brutal and violent, Red Rising is like Hunger Games on steroids.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This moving memoir, written in free verse, follows Jacqueline Woodson through her childhood as a young, black girl growing up during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The use of poetic verse allows Woodson to capture poignant moments in her childhood and share them in a way that really resonates with the reader.  She talks of growing up with her mother, grandparents, and siblings, first in South Carolina and then in New York City.

The Eighth Day by Diane Salerni

Following the death of his father in a car accident, Jax Aubrey is sent to live with his new guardian, Riley Pendare—someone he’s never heard of, let alone met. Riley is incredibly secretive and doesn’t pay much attention to Jax. One day, which Jax believes to be a Thursday, everyone around him disappears, except for a mysterious teenage girl next door that Jax has never seen before. The next day Jax wakes up and finds it’s Thursday again, except this time everyone is back where they belong and the girl next door is gone.

Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop

Davey’s family is on their first vacation in a couple years and what is his family doing? Sleeping!  While they snore, Davey collects his book and his glasses and, without leaving a note, he heads off to the beach. His plan is to stretch out on the sand and bury his nose in a book, but the sparkling water entices him. The island’s beach is totally deserted. There’s a no swimming sign, but it’s barely readable.

Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke

Englishman Billy Williams landed a job in Burma in 1920 as a “forest man” for a teak company and became enamored with the elephants used by the company to haul logs through remote jungle. Elephant Company is the story of these elephants, their native keepers and Billy’s increasing skill at handling them and fascination with their intelligence and personalities. When Japanese forces invaded Burma in 1942, Billy and the elephants had another job—helping the war effort and saving lives.

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