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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 Deborah, Youth Services:

Muse by Jonathan Galassi

This is a quiet book written in a literary style that hearkens back to the robust publishing world during the early to mid-twentieth century, a time when ideas and intellect mattered and caught the public's attention and enthusiasm. While the plot centers on a bit of literary mystery, the truly beguiling aspect of Galassi's writing is his introspective observations about life and art and relationships.

Recommended by Ellen, Account Services

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

This is an interesting story about how the right book at the right time can provide comfort and resolution for a weary soul. Jean Perdu, a sad, lost Parisian and a classic wounded healer, listens for the deep truth in his customers' words and recommends books which will heal their hidden losses. Forced out of his familiar niche, Perdu takes his book barge on a river journey to find his lost love. Max Jordan, a young, successful author of a book about avoided love jumps aboard while running from his next book. If you liked Amelie, the Elegance of a Hedgehog, or the books of C.S. Lewis, you will love this one. And, for those who miss intriguing bookstores, intuitive booksellers, and the pleasure of the right book, this is a joy to read.

Recommended by Ellen, Account Services

Colony: The Endangered World of Bees (DVD, 2011)

Colony is a beautifully filmed documentary about the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) on the beekeepers, many of whom are solitary or small family operators. In addition to the normal high risks of mites, fungus and bee disease, 25% of the hives in the world are dying per year from an unknown cause which may be due to pesticide buildup in the bee genes. Different types of beekeepers are interviewed who talk about the increasing risks of beekeeping, including lower prices in a failing farming economy. The filmmakers lead the viewer to a broader understanding of the issues at stake for food growing, genetically-modified crops and pesticides, but finally suggest that without research funded by the companies who benefit from new chemical products, there can be no solution. Not only is the loss of bees a terrible risk for the future of food production, an entire generation of beekeepers and beekeeping knowledge may be lost as families are forced to give up beekeeping in order to survive.

Recommended by Robin, Library Page

My Favorite Things by Maira Kalman

Reviews often say Kalman's vibrant illustrations are Matisse-like. They are! Kalman has a whimsical writing style. Every now and then she knocks you out when she delivers a heart-tugging punch. My Favorite Things came about after the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum invited Kalman to be a guest curator for an exhibit in 2014. In her run of their whole collection, she looked for things that made her "gasp with delight." The book is an artfully combined look at her favorite things and her selections for the exhibit.

Recommended by Robin, Library Page

Fireboat : The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman

Another Kalman work, Fireboat is the story of the restoration of the fireboat John J. Harvey by a group of friends long after it was declared useless. When the two planes bombed the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001, the owners of the John J. Harvey volunteered to help and were told they could help ferry passengers to safety. "But suddenly an urgent message came loud and clear, 'John J. Harvey, where are you WE NEED YOU!'" because the firefighters at the Twin Towers site couldn't pump water there due to the destruction.

Recommended by Robin, Library Page

13 Words by Lemony Snicket

Kalman illustrated this picture book. (They know each other!) The last page of this story about efforts to cheer up a friend will make you weep.

Recommended by Robin, Library Page

Ooh-la-la (Max in love) by Maira Kalman

About Max Stravinsky, a dog who's a poet, who travels from New York to Paris and finds his raison d’être - a Dalmatian named Crepes Suzette - who is wearing a pink gown with spaghetti-straps.

Recommended by Robin, Library Page

The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman

Chronicles a year in her life. It is worth the journey. Kalman is a national treasure.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services

Armada by Ernest Cline

If you’re craving more Star Wars action then Armada is the book for you to keep the momentum going. Zack is a crack gamer who finds himself recruited to fight a real life alien war. Yes, there are many similarities to Ender's Game and the author uses a multitude of pop culture references in this story. But this I would say is a simplified Ender's Game, fun, easy to read, more of an adventure and not necessarily mind-bending.

Recommended by Sally, Instructional Services

Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

Set during the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, Yapa's debut deftly wove emotional human interest stories along with the facts of the protests as described in documentaries, news stories and television coverage of the riots. Although initially designed to be peaceful protests at the WTO conference, the protests quickly turned into violence in the streets. The characters ranged from the local police department and its chief's runaway son, 50,000 anti-globalization protesters along with environmentalists and a visiting financial minister from Sri Lanka who was scheduled to meet with the president. The compelling writing almost makes the reader believe they were first hand witnesses to the unfolding chaos.

Recommended by Tina, Youth Services

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This story is absolutely heart wrenching, yet hard to put down. Told from four different students' perspectives, you get a true insight into the shooters' carefully thought out plan and his motives behind it. Each one of the individuals has a different relationship with the shooter and this is one of the strongest points of the book. Due to the fact that you learn so much information about each of the characters every chapter, it is easy to forget that the entire book only spans fifty four minutes. Recommend this book to anybody who can handle the awful truth behind mass shootings. This book definitely makes you think twice about how you treat people in your everyday life!

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services

Need by Joelle Charbonneau

Can you tell the difference between a want and a need and how far would you go to get either? This intriguing story centers on a website targeting high school students that promises to meet need requests in exchange for the completion of tasks that become increasingly deadly.

Recommended by Amy, Instructional Services

No baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering by Clara Bensen

I loved this book. What appears at first glance to be an interesting experiment in minimalist travel soon unfolds into a millennial online dating memoir that ultimately gets unpacked as an intelligent woman's travel through an existential crisis. Would you have the courage to travel to Europe for three weeks with no reservations, no baggage except a purse (ok, she cheated and brought an extra pair of underwear), and a companion you just met in an online dating site? Clara Bensen's courage will inspire you to push the boundaries of your own comfort zones, even if you stay home.

Recommended by Amy, Instructional Services

Cleopatra's Shadows by Emily Holleman

This is an interesting and well-researched book about Cleopatra's two not so well known half-sisters: the scheming older sister who wrests control of Egypt from their father and the beloved younger sister who is left behind to survive as best she can. The author imagines the events during lives of Cleopatra's "shadow sisters" in chapters that alternate between the two. Although well-imagined and researched, the novel does not have enough imagination to spin a great tale and not enough history to bring the real story to life.

Recommended by Lynne, Collection Services:

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

What can be more innocent than throwing a bachelor party for a younger brother in your own living room? Robert finds out how quickly things can get out of hand when the strippers arrive with Russian bodyguards. Told by a variety of characters, this story is one of redemption when Robert decides to do the right thing by himself, his wife, and his daughter.

Recommended by Lynne, Collection Services:

My name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

A sick young mother in the hospital, alone…her estranged mother comes to keep her company as she recovers…during conversations in the hospital never-never land, Lucy finds that no matter how flawed this relationship and person might be, there is still always room for mom.

Recommended by Lynne, Collection Services:

What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

Lucy really, really wants to be a mother. Things aren't working out with her husband and when an infant is left in a basket at Lowe's, Lucy moves in and helps out by taking the baby and making it her own. No one is the wiser for 21 years when the truth comes out. How will the characters come to terms with this?

Recommended by Lydia, Collection Services:

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is a superb WW2 drama with plenty of history, romance and enough twists to keep you reading and intrigued. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for a quick summer read.

Recommended by Jennifer, Account Services:

Last Words by Michael Koryta

In Michael Koryta's latest psychological thriller, private investigator Markus Novak must investigate a murder committed in a cave. It was full of suspense and really gave me the chills because there were so many twists that make you guessing. Some of the read was a little difficult for me because I know what a cave is, but to really imagine how big one is and the details he puts into it as to what happened in the cave was overwhelming. The story was great and I really enjoyed it.

Recommended by Clara, Collection Services:

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

This story is set in England in 1665 and is about a 13 year old boy Christopher Rowe. Christopher is an orphan and has been apprenticed to Master Benedict Blackthorn, an apothecary. Very strange murders have happened among the community of pharmacists and Christopher and his best friend Tom decide to discover why.

Recommended by Nancy, Collection Services:

Down Among the Dead Men by Peter Lovesey

For Peter Lovesey fans, you will not be disappointed. Superintendent Diamond is sent to Sussex on the coast of England to investigate the grounds for suspending a Sussex detective for failing to follow up DNA evidence which just happens to belong to the Sussex detective's niece (not to mention being an old friend of the Superintentdant). To make matters worse, Peter Diamond is working on this internal investigation at the insistence of Assistance Chief Constable Georgina Dallymore, who has a way of obfuscating even the clearest of truths. The internal investigation itself involves a seven-year-old murder and Superintentdent Diamond believes the suspended detective is only now facing the breach of ethics charge because she is determined uncover a web of disappearances of semi-underworld people that have gone unnoticed and uninvestigated which would bring up the number of unsolved crimes for the areas statistics. Author Lovesey, of course, opens his book with a totally unrelated instance of why an art teacher at an expensive girls school leaves suddenly without any explanation, and still manages to make these mysteries all fall together with his usual humor and pathos. A book to be enjoyed by his fans and new readers alike.

Recommended by Nancy, Collection Services:

The Drowning by Camilla Läckberg

This is a new book by yet another wonderful Scandinavian author. It involves four men and their families, one of whom has gone missing for several months. Another has just written his debut novel but is frightened to appear on television for publicity interviews because he has been receiving anonymous threatening notes for the past year and a half. When the body of the missing man is found in a frozen pond, and the others begin receiving similar notes as well, the police have their hands full investigating the backgrounds of all four and their families. The author's talent comes from reeling the reader in slowly as to their past histories. While we can eventually discern the "who" as to the actual murderer, it is the "why" that is the real shocker. The author has her own style and unlike a Nesbø or a Larssen, family life, but not necessarily violence, is the matrix of much of the book. A great read.