Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

October 1, 2012

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories
by Winchester, Simon
551.4613 WIN

His publisher calls this a biography of the Atlantic Ocean, and indeed this tale spans its life from geological beginnings on to its expected demise 140,000,000 years hence. The book’s scope seems as broad as the ocean itself, including a thousand years of human history and natural phenomena occurring on, in, and above it.

And Mr. Winchester is up to the task; he has spent most of his life on the Atlantic and its islands and shores, as well as reading the nearly 200 books cited in his bibliography. An engaging and colorful writer, he has filled the book with personal anecdotes, facts, and bits of trivia about history – commercial, military, natural, economic, and social.

He makes a persuasive case that the Atlantic is the axis of western civilization as was the Mediterranean Sea for classical civilization, and he describes some of the problems that civilization has created. The once inexhaustible supply of codfish has gone the way of the once inexhaustible supply of buffalo, and we do not yet know how tolerant the ocean will be of the oil spills and other pollutants that are disgorged into it.

It is a fascinating, erudite, and entertaining read.

— Recommended by Melinda Mullican, Wayne Library


September 24, 2012


The Cat Who Went to Paris
by Gethers, Peter
818 GET

This is the true story of Norton, an adorable Scottish Fold kitten, who comes to live with a cat-hating screenwriter named Peter Gethers and grows up to travel the world meeting famous actors and writers and dining in style at the best restaurants in Paris.  Amazingly, this classy cat actually enjoys traveling whether it is riding in Peter’s pocket through the streets and subways of New York City or jetsetting across country and around the world. Although Peter is initially aghast when his girlfriend presents him with this tiny kitten, Norton has Peter wrapped around his paw before the evening is over. This is the first hilarious volume in the Norton trilogy followed by A Cat Abroad and The Cat Who’ll Live Forever.

— Recommended by Deborah Jones, Franklin Road Library


September 17, 2012


by Malarkey, Tucker

If you liked The Da Vinci Code this is the book for you. The story takes place at the end of World War II and involves the actual discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts. Gemma is the daughter of an archeologist who is trying to obtain these texts before they are lost to the academic world by being sold to private collectors. When she receives a letter telling her that her father is dead she travels to Egypt to bury him and put his affairs in order. There she is drawn into the lives of an English ex-patriot family with two sons. One son has been badly wounded in the war and the other is an archaeologist and friend of her father. Each represents a different path to healing and spiritual growth and challenges her concepts of life and biblical teachings. What is also given is a factual look at the antiquities market and the intrigue involved is getting this archaeological discovery into a museum. This book can also be “read” in audio book format.

— Recommended by Lygia Bischoff, Pike Library


September 10, 2012

The Empty Mirror

The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery
by Vetering, Janwillem van de

I’ve read and enjoyed many of Janwillem van de Wetering’s murder mysteries featuring the Amsterdam cops, but my favorite book by this wandering Dutchman was his first, a memoir about his stay in a Zen monastery in Kyoto. No mystical halo glows over the abbey or its residents. The same goes for Wetering--on a bus in town, he uses his elevated powers of concentration to persuade a beautiful woman to rub up against him--but he is for the most part an earnest student of meditation, while most of the young Japanese monks are there because that's where their families sent them. A lot of them take periodic trips into town to spend time with prostitutes and otherwise amuse themselves. Sometime after reading this book, I spent a couple months at a Zen abbey, and the abbess there, who had trained in Japan, expressed contempt for monasteries where this sort of behavior was allowed. Had she read The Empty Mirror and been irritated by it, or was such laxness rampant in Japanese abbeys?

Strangest thing of all about this down-to-earth book: I found it inspiring.

— Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology


September 3, 2012


by Winslow, Don

Once you’ve read a book by Don Winslow, you know what to expect: something totally different than his last book. This is one author whose style changes from book to book, who takes chances with his prose and isn’t going to get trapped in that rut of writing the same book over and over, thank you very much. Savages is gritty and raunchy and has moments that had me saying, “I can’t believe I’m reading this.” It’s about two likeable small-time marijuana dealers in southern California and their girlfriend, O. Reading it, I kept asking myself if there was any possibility that Winslow hadn’t taken his research into the drug trade a little too seriously. But Winslow is such a terrific writer than he manages to make the reader care about Ben and Chon and O. Sure they’re criminals, but compared to the guys they’re up against, aren’t they pretty doggone likable? Apparently so, because a movie is said to be in the works, directed by Oliver Stone and starring John Travolta.

— Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library