Charlevoix Public Library  Where your imagination takes flight

Staff Picks


Our staff’s choice of books and movies for each season:



A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry: With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers – a spirted widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village – will be thrust together, forced to share a cramped apartment and an uncertain future. A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhumane state. – Lisa’s Pick

Recursion by Blake Crouch: A NYC detective teams up with a genius neuroscientist to investigate the devastating effects of a novel, and perhaps contagious affliction “False Memory Syndrome”. The victims of FMS are suddenly overwhelmed with memories of entire lives that they never lived. Recursion is a fantastic sci-fi thriller that had me up way past my bedtime, and still considering the implications of the underlying premises of power and corruption, the fluidity of space and time, and how it might affect our most intimate relationships, long after reading the last page. – Alicia’s Pick

Island of Sea Women by Lisa See: This historical novel set on the Korean island of Jeju follows two girls from varied backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving group. Their lives unfold as their relationship changes over many difficult decades, including the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers. – Davonne’s Pick 

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips: Set on the isolated Kamchatka Peninsula, Disappearing Earth ostensibly sets out to solve the mystery of two young girls that go missing. While that standard premise is accomplished by the end of the book, the path to this conclusion is anything but standard or straight. Instead, Disappearing Earth taps into the reverberations of this crime on a whole host of richly drawn characters over the course of a year that, at the outset, have nothing in common but life on the same peninsula in which such a disappearance is big news. What makes this a great read in my opinion, is not only that Philips is able to imaginatively pull together a diverse cast of richly drawn characters, but that she additionally uses all of these characters and the effects of the disappearance as a springboard to shed light on the complex social and ethnic tensions that are both unique to Kamchatka yet also so common to all of humanity. – Ryan’s Pick

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich: Based on the life of the author’s grandfather, a night watchman in rural North Dakota during the 1950s, who also traveled to Washington D.C. working to resist the removal of Native Americans from their reservation. Themes and symbols of family, love, life and death are deeply embedded in the novel. – Davonne’s other Pick


GRAPHIC NOVELS – This Season, We Take A Break From Non Fiction to Bring You Some GREAT Graphic Novels!

The Sky is Blue With A Single Cloud by Kuniko Tsurita, translated by Ryan Holmberg, edited with an essay by Ryan Holmberg and Mitsuhiro Asakawa: A collection of 18 short stories in chronological order, finished with an essay about the life and art of the author (or beginning with, if you started reading this book from left to right rather than the traditional Japanese style of right to left). Kuniko Tsurita was the first and only regular female contributor to the Japanese alt-manga magazine Garo until the 1970s. Bohemian lifestyle, identity, challenging gender norms and gender fluidity are recurring themes. Many of her characters are androgynous, and rebellious. Her later work became darker and more dreamlike, assumingly influenced in part by her failing health (she was diagnosed with lupus in her mid-twenties, which ultimately lead to her death at 37). She has a simple black and white drawing style, that masterfully conveys emotion whether there is much text or not. Despite some stories being over fifty years old, this
book felt relevant to modern times and politics – a treat for contemporary literature readers, and graphic novel fans alike. – Alicia’s Pick

Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson: Lighthearted, relatable comic strips. Fun and quick to read. – Carrie’s Pick

Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales, Juanjo Guarnido, Anthya Flores (Translator), Patricia Rivera (Translator): Originally published in France but written by two Spaniards, the hardcover version of Blacksad found here in the US (and on our shelves) is both noir at its best as well as a visual delight. A collection of three stories, Blacksad follows troubled private investigator John Blacksad through all of the genre staples from easy to hate villains, crooked cops, chatty informants, femme fatales, complex plots, and grit. Yet utterly unique to Blacksad, is that all of the characters populating this oh-so-enjoyable world are animals. While this anthropomorphization could have felt like a gimmick in less talented hands, writer Juan Diaz Canales manages to make the particular traits of the animal characters further the story (think of a literally cold blooded criminal lizard) while artist Juanjo Guarnido extraordinarily detailed yet cinematic depiction of each is a wonder to behold. –Ryan’s Pick

Manga Classics: Sense & Sensibility By Stacy King and Jane Austen: This is a Japanese-style manga adaption of Jane Austen’s tale Sense and Sensibility. The classic tale combined with very pretty artwork makes it a fun and easy to read. –Carrie’s other Pick

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Macksey: Mackesy’s fable began its life as a comic, then a graphic novel; the exact classification is still a little wobbly. Rather than a linear narrative, it’s a collection of quiet musings and conversations. With beautiful illustrations, the characters learn how to have courage in difficult times, and that love and friendship build resilience. This message can resonate with everyone right now, especially when simple kindness seems just out of reach. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse may not be able to solve the world’s problems, but it will remind you of the qualities that can. – Sara’s Pick


 Past Picks



2019 Fall

2019 Summer

2019 Spring
2019 Winter 
2018 Fall
2018 Summer
2018 Spring
2018 Winter
2017 Fall

2017 Summer
2017 Spring
2017 Winter
2016 Fall
2016 Summer
2016 Spring
2015 Winter
2015 Fall
2015 Summer
2015 Spring
2014 Winter
2014 Fall
2014 Summer
2014 Spring
2013 Winter
2013 Fall
2013 Summer
2013 Spring