Staff Picks

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

February 27, 2012

A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness--And A Trove Of Letters--Revealed The Hidden History Of The Great Depression

A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness--And A Trove Of Letters--Revealed The Hidden History Of The Great Depression
by Gup, Ted
977.162 GUP

It’s Christmastime 1933 and Canton, Ohio is in the depths of the Great Depression.  Families are struggling for the barest necessities, and hope is hard to find.  Then on December 18, an ad in the newspaper appears, offering money to families in need, with the understanding that the identities of the giver and the recipients would never be known.  The ad is signed "B. Virdot."

Seventy-five years later, Ted Gup, an investigative report for the Washington Post, receives an old suitcase from his mother.  Among the scrapbooks and photographs is an envelope filled with letters addressed to Mr. B. Virdot and a newspaper ad.  Intrigued, Gup tries to track down the descendants of the letter writers and discover how, or if, their lives were changed by the gifts.

Gup unearths stories of poverty, resilience, and redemption, but he also discovers secrets about his grandfather kept hidden for decades.  The letters and their writers’ stories reveal truths about the Great Depression not found in history books, and offers inspiration for our own era of hard times.

— Recommended by Ellen Flexman, Eagle Branch


February 20, 2012

The Vanishing Of Katharina Linden

The Vanishing Of Katharina Linden
by Grant, Helen

This fascinating thriller reeled me in with its first line: "My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded."

While the story’s narrator, Pia, is a child, this is absolutely a tale for adults. Despite doses of humor, the action at times is truly terrifying. After her grandmother becomes the unfortunate victim of a combination of Advent candles and Aquanet hairspray, Pia is the class pariah and somehow ends up being implicated in the disappearances of several of her schoolmates. Pia and her unwanted "friend," Stink Stefan, decide to solve the crimes on their own, enlisting only the help of Herr Schiller, a kindly old friend of the family, who arms them with local folklore and ghost stories. Their hometown, Bad Munstereifel, is a perfect setting for tales of the Brothers Grimm. But despite Pia’s imaginings, the creature responsible for kidnapping and killing local girls is no otherworldly troll or ogre.

And the kids are in more danger than they know.

— Recommended by Emily Talbott, Nora Branch


February 13, 2012

Hunting Eichmann: How A Band Of Survivors And A Young Spy Agency Chased Down The World’s Most Notorious Nazi

Hunting Eichmann: How A Band Of Survivors And A Young Spy Agency Chased Down The World’s Most Notorious Nazi
by Bascomb, Neal
B Eichmann, Adolf BAS

A master novelist could not create a more thrilling spy caper than this true account of the 15 year search for the infamous Nazi Adolph Eichmann, the man who was responsible for transporting millions of Jews to concentration camps.  Bascomb’s excellent research and focused writing bring post-war Europe alive as he recounts the exhaustive efforts of Simon Wiesenthal and others to trace Eichmann to Argentina. With cold-war politics taking center stage in the 1950s and no government interested in arresting Eichmann, the job falls to the Israeli spy agency Mossad. The author's interviews with several of the agents lead to personal insights into what the agents--many of whom were persecuted during the war and lost family in the Holocaust--went through during their dangerous mission, and the devastating emotional impact of facing their enemy. Bascomb illustrates how significant and galvanizing Eichmann’s trial and execution were for the world, and Israel in particular, at a time when many wanted to forget the horrors of the war.

— Recommended by Nicole James, College Avenue Library


February 6, 2012


by Lemon, Don
B Lemon Don Lemon

Don Lemon is a CNN Anchor who has also been a Today Show Correspondent. All of this after a professor at Louisiana State University once told him that he wasn’t going to make it in the business. He has won multiple Emmys for his work, is an avid user of social media and was one of the first journalists to 'vlog' as a means of communicating with viewers.

Lemon tells his story of perseverance, determination and hard work that helped him to overcome many adversities in his life. His openness will motivate anyone who is discouraged. He writes honestly about issues such as family, racism, loss, secrets, faith, happiness and embracing change.

Discussing the lessons that he has learned in life, Don Lemon tells a story that will invite readers to engage life's daily challenges without fear.

— Recommended by Denise Smith, African American History Committee


January 30, 2012

Blood Of The Prodigal

Blood Of The Prodigal
by Gaus, Paul L.
MYS G274b

This is the first of the Ohio Amish series  of mysteries that Gaus has set in Holmes County, Ohio, which according to the book jacket is "home to the largest Amish and Mennonite settlements in the world." The story involves a son who has been exiled from his family for failing to live by the Amish code. There's a kidnapping and a murder. An Amish bishop reluctantly asks a couple of "English" (non-Amish, in other words) for help.

The novel opens with Jeremiah Miller, an Amish ten-year-old who has discovered that he loves solitude. The start of his morning is so nicely captured that I was almost disappointed when reminded that this was a mystery, and that this kid was going to be caught up in some plot. But the story, and the involvement of outsiders with the Amish, are well handled. The library owns six more titles in the series, and I'd like to read on, even though I have doubts about the author's ability to set that many murder stories in the Amish community. I guess there's only one way to find out how he does it.

— Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology