Staff Picks

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

January 2, 2012

Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa

Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa
by Richburg, Keith B.
306.0967 RIC

The author landed in Nairobi, Kenya, to begin his three-year tour as the Washington Post’s African bureau chief with some misgivings. His undergraduate courses in African studies and the popular "African roots" idea among black Americans painted a rosier picture of the continent than contemporary news reports would seem to justify.  Before long he would be standing on a bridge watching hacked-up bodies and body parts floating down the Kagera River, some of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Rwandan genocide. Later, as an early advocate of U.S. intervention in the chaotic tribal butchery in Somalia, he would see our ignominious retreat after the bloody failure in that effort, dramatized in the movie "Blackhawk Down." In country after country he saw the dispiriting slide of independent former colonies into tribal warfare and corrupt kleptocratic dictatorships that impoverished their people. His guilty conclusion: that the slavery his ancestors endured had the lucky result of making him a black American, but not an African-American.

— Recommended by Melinda Mullican, Wayne Branch


December 26, 2011

The Pact: Three Young Men Make A Promise And Fulfill A Dream

The Pact: Three Young Men Make A Promise And Fulfill A Dream
by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Remeck Hunt
926.1 DAV

Three impoverished Newark-area high school students view a pass to a college information session as a break from school. Instead, they listen. What began as one student's dream to be a dentist leads the friends to make a pact with each other to seek scholarships and see each other through whatever comes, which includes arrest, injury, frustration, coping with death, failure, and financial struggles. The young men are torn between study, fun, the street, love, and even some success as rappers. The trio's stubbornness and loyalty helps them succeed and start a foundation to help others fulfill educational dreams.

— Recommended by Diane Palguta, College Avenue Branch


December 19, 2011

Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey To Discover How The Ingredients Found In Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), And Manipulated Into What America Eats

Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey To Discover How The Ingredients Found In Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), And Manipulated Into What America Eats
by Ettlinger, Steve
641.308 ETT

Being deep-fried, chocolate-covered, smothered in strawberry syrup or plain doesn’t matter because at the beginning it is a Twinkie. Just what is in that Twinkie? If you’ve ever wondered (and wanted to know the answer) then Twinkie, Deconstructed might be the next great read for you. Steve Ettlinger takes a close and personal look at how the ingredients are grown, mined, created, and processed on their way to becoming Twinkies. Twinkies are just cream-filled cakes, right? Well, not exactly, according to our author. Take the example of flour, the processing of flour from the field to the cake involves a multitude of steps. Steve Ettlinger explains the purpose of the steps and how they contribute to the creation of each Twinkie. Whether you love Twinkies, detest Twinkies, or are just curious to know what they are made of, this is a book you can sink your teeth into.

— Recommended by Erin Murphy, Irvington Branch


December 12, 2011

22 Britannia Road

22 Britannia Road
by Hodgkinson, Amanda

In 1939,  Janusz Nowak left his wife and baby to go off and fight against Hitler and the Nazis. It is now 1946, and Janusz has not seen his wife, Silvana, and little boy, Aurek, since he left them in Warsaw, Poland, all those years before. Janusz manages to locate his wife and son and have them brought to England, where he is now living.  In anticipation of their arrival, Janusz buys a house at 22 Britannia Road; he is determined to put his family back together again. But when Silvana and Aurek arrive, it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been brutal for them all, though in vastly different ways. They each have secrets they feel unable to share and the secrets deepen the rift between them. The war, it seems, continues to devastate long after it has been declared officially ended. This is the story of three people who have lived through horrific experiences and are trying to mend, individually and as a family. 

— Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Branch


December 5, 2011

The Christmas Shoes

The Christmas Shoes
by VanLiere, Donna

Both Robert Layton and Nathan Andrews are at difficult points in their lives. Robert has a wonderful wife and two beautiful children, but his marriage is close to ending. Eight-year-old Nathan's childhood is being overshadowed by the fact that his mother is dying of ovarian cancer. A chance happening between the two in a department store on Christmas Eve causes profound changes for both. As Robert observes Nathan trying to buy shoes for his mother to wear in order to be beautiful when entering heaven, he realizes that there are much more important things in life than money and prestige. This book, based on a song by the musical group Newsong, was adapted into a made-for-television movie. While a quick read, it will definitely touch your heart.

— Recommended by Jill Wetnight, Franklin Road Branch