May 2012 Archive of Staff Picks

Staff-recommended reading from the Alexandria Library Catalog.


No Crystal StairNo Crystal Stair: A documentary novel of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller

By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

In a well-documented but fictional biography, the fascinating story of Lewis Michaux's determination to open a bookstore for African-Americans in 1930's Harlem is presented. Starting out with little money and only 5 books, he managed to create an institution which stayed open until 1974 and had significant impact on members of the community as well as political activists and literary figures, such as Langston Hughes. Told in a variety of voices, the account is further enhanced by including newspaper articles, photographs, FBI files, and illustrations by R. Gregory Christie.

Recommended by Ginny R.  


Monster of FlorenceMonster of Florence

By Douglas Preston

The true story of a famous Italian serial killer told by a master of suspense fiction. Preston and an Italian journalist investigate the crime and search out the man they believe is the true killer, bringing themselves under suspicion in the process. Almost too bizarre to be true! Also available as an eBook and audiobook.

Recommended by Elizabeth S.



By Joseph Heller 

A classic story about war, bureaucracy and absurdity. Also available as an audiobook.

Recommended by Heather M.  


Case HistoriesCase Histories

By Kate Atkinson

Readers are introduced to Cambridge private investigator Jackson Brodie, as he delves into three unsolved cases with some unexpected results.

Recommended Jessica S.


River of DoubtRiver of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's darkest journey

By Candice Millard

This book chronicles Theodore Roosevelt's unbelievable tour turned battle for survival on the Amazon River, a fascinating, rare peek at the wilds of the Amazon and a snapshot of the character of this President. I can not believe a movie hasn't been made! I highly recommend this book. Also available as an eBook.

Recommended by Sandy H.  


Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

It just doesn't get old. Despite having been published over 200 years ago, Jane Austen's best-known novel holds its stylish, pithy own against any more recent-comers. Read it as great literature or satisfying chick lit - it's sublime either way.

Recommended by Sarah F.  


Long day wanesLong Day Wanes; a Malayan triology

By Anthony Burgess 

A triology by the author of A Clockwork Orange, it is set in Malaya during the last days of British Rule. Written in the tradition of Orwell, Conrad and Maugham, the novel is a witty social satire which follows the fortunes and misfortunes of history teacher Victor Crabbe. Burgess at his best!

Recommended by Vakare V.


The Ordinary PrincessThe Ordinary Princess

By Mary Margaret Kaye

A princess story with a twist. At Princess Amythest's christening, a quirky godmother gives her the blessing of being ordinary. Plain but happy, with a shortened ordinary name, Amy runs away to escape the superficial palace life. A funny story for ages 7-11.

Recommended by Beverly S.



Her Fearful SymmetryHer Fearful Symmetry

By Audrey Niffenegger

This novel is set in London, adjacent to a historical cemetery, with twin sisters inheriting their aunt's estate. A well spun ghost story with subplots that come to a suspenseful climax. Also available as an audiobook.

Recommended by Deb C.




Good OmensGood Omens

By Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Brit humor in its most unrefined form. These authors make words sit and beg. The use of language is wonderful and the story told within is fun and amusing - in a good vs. evil end-of-the-world sorta way. Also available as an audiobook.

Recommended by George C.