June Staff Picks

Staff-recommended reading from the Alexandria Library Catalog. Check back every month for a new list.

We the animalsWe the animals

By Justin Torres

In this stunning debut novel, Justin Torres captures the turbulence, chaos, and unbridled rampages of three brothers as they come of age. Each chapter of Torres’ powerful narrative gives us scenes that tackle issues of race, culture, middle/lower-class struggles – all bound together by the relentless ties to family. Set aside an afternoon to read this enthralling roller-coaster ride of a novel!

Recommended by Mark M.



Most talkative : stories from the front lines of pop culture Most talkative : stories from the front lines of pop culture [audiobook (CD)]

By Andy Cohen

Having never seen "The Real Housewives" franchise (on which author Andy Cohen hosts a tell-all talk show), I’m not exactly the target audience for this audio book. But Cohen’s self-deprecating wit and charming delivery as narrator immediately disarmed me. He traces the beginnings of his career as a soap opera-obsessed teen to a successful reporter, producer, and host – framed by multiple star-struck interactions with Susan Lucci. Also available in print.

Recommended by Susan B.



A thousand lives : the untold story of hope, deception, and the fight to survive Jonestown A thousand lives : the untold story of hope, deception, and the fight to survive Jonestown

By Julia Scheeres

A super captivating book. Scheeres uses a ton of primary sources from previously unreleased FBI files (from stuff collected after the massacre/suicide). Scheeres also brings a depth to the victims and survivors of Jonestown, fleshing out their experiences and giving them a voice beyond the 'brainwashed cult member' persona that can be so easy to apply. About 40% of the book is her documentation, which lends weight and authoritativeness to the narrative.

Recommended by Sarah Rice S.  



Battle cry of freedom : the Civil War era Battle cry of freedom : the Civil War era 

By James M. McPherson

This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the American Civil War.

Recommended by Mark Z.






The best of youth : a novel The best of youth : a novel 

By Michael Dahlie

A well-intentioned young man with no money problems tries to live a purposeful life in New York with results that are sometimes funny and sometimes disastrous. The writing reminds me of Laurie Colwin but the events are grittier. Henry, however, is a thoroughly engaging character.

Recommended by Marilyn D.




And only to deceive And only to deceive

By Tasha Alexander

Lady Emily Ashton does not mourn the death of her husband as a proper Victorian lady should. The truth is that she barely had time to get to know him before he was killed in a tragic hunting accident. As Lady Emily seeks to learn more about her husband she learns that there was much more to him than she knew. Tasha Alexander is a great writer and draws you into Lady Emily's world with mystery thrown in to keep you guessing.

Recommended by Katie D.



In the shadow of Gotham In the shadow of Gotham 

By Stefanie Pintoff

This historical mystery, the 2010 Edgar Award winner for best first novel, takes the reader to the streets of New York City in the early 1900s. Detective Simon Ziele chases a murderer with the help of criminologist Alistiar Sinclair and his daughter, using psychology and science in the early days of the "professional" detective.

Recommended by Elizabeth S.




Passionate nomad : the life of Freya Stark Passionate nomad : the life of Freya Stark

By Jane Geniesse

This biography of Freya Stark recounts her travels in the Middle East in the early 1900's. She was one of the first non-Arabians to travel through many of these areas. She published over 20 books during her 60 year career.

Recommended by Stephanie C.




Bell jarThe bell jar

By Sylvia Plath

In this acclaimed work, Plath tells the story of Esther Greenwood's decent into mental illness. This haunting and accessible classic gives readers a glimpse into the realities of institutionalization and the dark corners of the human mind.

Recommended by Samantha P.


Forty years of Washington societyForty Years of Washington Society

By Margaret Bayard Smith

Margaret Bayard Smith came to Washington as a young bride in 1800. For forty years she was an active participant in society and observer of Washington politics. This book, based on her letters and memoirs, gives us a fascinating front row view of the young city, the politicians who formed our country, and social life in the first part of the nineteenth century.

Recommended by Julie D.