Charlevoix Public Library  Where your imagination takes flight

Staff Picks


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


The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz: The protagonist of this clever who-done-it from author and screenwriter (“Foyle’s War,” “Midsomer Murders”) Horowitz is also a novelist and screenwriter named Anthony (“Don’t call me Tony”) who has written scripts for Steven Spielberg and the BBC. The book opens with a woman arranging her own funeral. Later that day, she’s strangled to death, and a disgraced but brilliant detective
named Daniel Hawthorne is called in by the London police to help solve the case. Hawthorne asks Anthony to write about him solving the crime but things get complicated. Best described as a “classic whodunit with a metatwist,” and great fun. – Beth’s pick

Exhalation by Ted Chiang: Award-winning science fiction author Ted Chiang’s new collection of short fiction is amazingly original, entertaining, and thought provoking. These include a portal through time to ancient Baghdad, an alien scientist performing surgery on himself and what he finds, and in the final story how the ability to see into alternate universes causes a new examination of the concepts of choice and free will. If you can’t get enough try his first book of stories which was the basis for the film “Arrival.” – Pam’s pick


Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay: Written as a series of letters, Samantha, a long-time foster child with a difficult past, chronicles her life in graduate school as a requirement of her scholarship. She is a young woman hiding behind her favorite characters (many from Jane Austen) in literature. Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters. The author, Katherine Reay spoke at the Charlevoix Library in August 2019. Look for her other books on the shelf. – Linda’s pick

Bangkok Wakes To Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad: A house in Bangkok is the confluence of lives shaped by the upheaval, memory, and the lure of home. Written as separate stories in different times to the present, these stories collide and converge linked by forces remaking the history of the capital of Thailand. I found it a mesmerizing reading experience, filled with energy, emotion, and description that saturates the senses. Very
original debut from young author. – Pam’s pick

Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates: A dystopian, futuristic novel in which a young, independentminded woman is time traveled to the past for rehabilitation in the seemingly idyllic Midwest of eighty years earlier. Insights into the forces of authoritarianism and consequences of dissent abound, regardless of time period or location. – Davonne’s pick

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash: A series of dark, thought-provoking stories sharing the title’s quotation theme from the Robert Frost poem, set in Appalachia and spanning a century. – Davonne’s pick

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: Ruth is a best seller British author of psychological crime thrillers. As an international best seller her thrillers include: The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game and In a Dark, Dark Wood. This story is set in the beautiful Scottish Highlands in a Victorian home refurbished to a state-of-the-art “smart house”. The nanny arrives from London to care for three children while the parents travel to various parts of the world for work. The story unfolds in the form of letters written to an attorney from the nanny, as she sits in jail having been accused of killing one of the children in her care. The twists and turns in this story make it an easy, hard to put down read! – Lyn’s pick



Once More We Saw Stars by Jason Greene: A soul-baring and heart-rending account of a father sharing the excruciating experience of suddenly losing a child through a freak accident, struggling with the aftermath, and then reentering the world of the living. – Davonne’s (and Sara’s) pick

Falter by Bill McKibben: 30yrs ago Bill McKibben alerted us to the dangers of climate change in his groundbreaking book “The End of Nature.” He again surveys the state of our world and finds even more alarming news. As climate change sinks the space where civilization can exist, new technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics threaten to diminish the variety of human experience. Drawing on his background to build, the first global citizens movement to combat climate change, he offers possible ways out of the trap we’ve set for ourselves. Falter is a powerful call to arms to save our planet and our humanity. – Pam’s pick

Falling Upward by Fr. Richard Rohr: The author shares an interesting way of looking at life, he helps readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or “gone down” are the only ones who understand “up.” Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as “falling upward.” In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. Fr. Rohr offers a fresh way of thinking about our growing spirituality. You an also listen to Fr. Rohr via an On Being podcast. – Linda’s pick

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life by Wade Rouse: Only recently did I discover that Wade Rouse wrote humorous memoirs before turning to fiction and writing under the pen-name Viola Shipman. At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream is Wade’s recounting of his move from his fast paced life in St. Louis to life in the slow lane near the woods of Saugatuck, MI. Witty, snarky and laugh out loud funny; Wade will have readers nodding in agreement as he traverses his first small town Michigan winter. – Leanne’s pick

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport: A thoughtful guide to managing our devices, instead of them managing us. This includes considering priorities in life and deciding the role the digital world should play. – Davonne’s pick

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance: After reading this book it is clear for me that people like Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs look at life with a higher purpose in mind. They don’t slow down for anybody and keep always going forward because they know they are creating something that will revolutionize the future. It’s perceived as selfish when they simply fire someone who is loyal and has sacrificed a lot for the company. Elon can be seen as a villain but in truth he simply is looking at the bigger picture. This man is building humanity’s future, electric cars that don’t damage the environment and can be recharged within few minutes, solar panels that will someday replace the electrical systems we currently use, rockets that aim to take people to Mars to populate it. He is a visionary and I am glad I decided to read Ashlee Vance’s book about him. – Brian’s pick

Blue Horses by Mary Oliver: Poetry (especially Mary Oliver’s) is a voice. When you hear it, the voice, its like listening to words spoken as a magic elixir that opens one’s mind to the natural world around you. A Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, these poems focus on the self’s relation to the natural world and they indeed work like magic. Blue Horses follows the path of magic of natural world deeper into a meditation and realm of insight only a truly gifted wordsmith can manage. She expects one’s breath to be taken away…like life and death… and her words do not disappoint. Like the nighttime thunderstorm, her poems light up my mind with electricity. What might be lost in the dark, without her spark to bring them forth, are beautifully made light with wonder. Oliver’s poems are a certain kind of magic – I read them and feel – what more could one want from any book? I am lost in her words and I am inspired. These words are both bracing and calming; inspirational and disturbing. Words like Oliver’s, words that
give me pause, allow me to consider there is something majestically magical in this world. – Dwain’s pick

 Past Picks

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