Charlevoix Public Library  Where your imagination takes flight

Staff Picks

 

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

Fiction

The Testaments: The Sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Three different women offer witness testimonies from their lives in the Republic of Gilead fifteen years after the time-period of the original Handmaid’s Tale. Each has a different rank in the patriarchal system, and yet they converge to impact the balance of power. Praise be. – Davonne’s Pick

Inland by Tea Obreht: This novel almost defies description, blending fact and fiction, the magical and the real. Set in the rugged Arizona Territory of the late 19th century, the narrative is shared by two main characters. Mattie Lurie is an outlaw on the run who takes refuge in the US Army Camel Corps (fact: there was such a thing!); Nora Lark is a stoic frontierswoman trying to raise a family in a drought-stricken land. Both characters speak to the dead: Lurie sees ghosts and acquires their “wants,” while Nora keeps up a running conversation with her daughter, who died as a baby but has aged into a young woman in Nora’s mind. The well-developed characters, the setting, and the dramatic way Mattie and Nora’s paths finally cross, made this a memorable book for me. – Beth’s pick

 

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: This novel by noted poet Vuong is told as a letter from a son to his illiterate mother. It goes from gentle and sweet to achingly personal and all-over breathtaking; questioning not just how to survive, but how to find a kind of joy amid unbearable circumstances. – Sara’s Pick

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout: The curmudgeonly, tactless and ruthlessly honest character of Olive Kitteridge is revisited as she moves forward in her senior years, while reflecting on relationships and choices in her past, some of which she regrets. Olive enhances our experience and understanding of the human condition. – Davonne’s Pick

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier: A lovely historical novel depicting the daily life of Violet Speedwell in Winchester, England after the devastation from the Great War. Violet has lost her brother and fiancé to the war, and society considers her a surplus female. Seeking an existence that is more than ‘spinsterhood,’ she joins a group of women who embroider kneeling cushions for Winchester Cathedral, and also befriends a cathedral bell -ringer who shares the little known world of bell-towers and bell-ringers with Violet. – Dee Marie’s Pick

Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior: Dan lives a happy, solitary life carving harps in his barn in the countryside of the English moors. On the anniversary of her father’s death Ellie takes a walk in the woods and comes across Dan’s barn. Ellie soon realizes Dan isn’t just different – in many ways his world is better, and he gives her a new perspective on her own life. A sweet, light read with all the things we love about English novels – quirky characters of friends and family, pubs, music, and of course, the Moors. – Pam’s Pick

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson: Seeing the movie advertised on Netflix prompted me to read this classic gothic mystery/thriller. As usual, the book is better than the movie! – Davonne’s Pick

 NON-FICTION

 

I Am The Grand Canyon by Stephen Hirst: This is an account of the Havasupai people, among the first to appear in North America over 20,000 years ago. It depicts their epic struggle to regain traditional lands taken from them in the 19th century. This is a people with deep cultural ties to the land below the rim of the Grand Canyon and on the surrounding plateaus. In 1971 the federal government proposed incorporating still more Havasupai land into Grand Canyon National Park. The book shows how these heroic people refused to back down when facing overwhelming odds. They won this battle, and today the Havasupai remain on their land in the Grand Canyon, living as they have for generations. – Pam’s Pick

Homework: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton: As a fan of Julie Andrews and her first memoir, Home, this book picks up the story of her life as she enters Hollywood and becomes a movie star. Andrews is a consummate storyteller and she takes readers on the adventures of making classics like Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music and more. She weaves her own life story amid cinema history and musical film production details. A story of one woman’s strength and grace. – Linda’s Pick

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson: Always informative and entertaining, Bryson packs his narrative with facts that remind us just how remarkable our human bodies are, despite what we do to them. – Davonne’s Pick

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel: Anne Bogel, known for her Modern Mrs. Darcy blog, has put together a collection of essays on the joys of books and reading. I completely related to her reflections on the reading life, being a book hoarder, and canceling plans to finish a must-read. This book was just lovely and oh-so familiar in just about every way. – Leanne’s Pick

American Earth – Environmental Writings Since Thoreau Edited by Bill McKibben: This is an inspiring and timely anthology of the most significant American environmental writing from the last two centuries. Included are essays from Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Wendell Berry leading us into an emerging activist movement. Some of America’s most impassioned writers also take a turn toward nature: John Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Rick Bass, Linda Hogan, Russell Baker, Al Gore, Barbara Kingsolver and many others. They help us recognize the fragility of the state of our Earth and the urgency of the search for a sustainable way of life. – Pam’s Pick

Know My Name by Chanel Miller: A courageous and heart-rending account of living through assault, speaking out to help others, witnessing the injustice of the ‘justice’ system, and finally, working to keep the devastating event from defining her life. – Dee Marie’s Pick

For the Love of Men: A New Vision of Mindful Masculinity by Liz Plank: My adult son recommended this book. It explores the ways society shapes men into boys and asks if this gender identity is healthy. I was surprised that the same issues that confronted young men in my generation, are still strangely stagnant. The author offers readers an awareness and a vision for action. –Linda’s Pick

 Past Picks

Fall 2019

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

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