May Staff Picks

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

 

When Washington Was in Vogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Washington Was in Vogue

By Edwards Christopher Williams

This 2014 choice for All Alexandria Reads demonstrates that the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance was occuring in 1920s Washington as well. The main character is Davy Carr, a WWI veteran who comes to Washington to do research, and discovers a rich cultural scene in the African-American community there. He stays with the Rhodes family and their two socially prominent daughters. Davy describes the society parties and events he attends through a series of letters written to a friend back in New York. Drama ensues due to mixed messages between Davy and Caroline Rhodes, a budding flapper. Fortunately the story has a satisfying end! Also of note, the author was the first African-American librarian in the United States.

Don't miss our hand selected list of books and resources about the 1920s and Washington D.C.

Recommended by A. Williams


The Pearl : a failed slave escape on the Potomac

 

 

 

 

The Pearl : a failed slave escape on the Potomac

By Josephine F. Pacheco

This book is a fascinating detail of the largest slave escape ever attempted and it took place right here in Washington, D.C. Recounting this harrowing tale from the preparations for escape through the participants' trial, Josephine Pacheco provides fresh insight into the lives of enslaved blacks in the District of Columbia, putting a human face on the victims of the interstate slave trade, whose lives have been overshadowed by larger historical events. Pacheco also details the Congressional debates about slavery that resulted from this large-scale escape attempt. Though the book is very dense it is well worth the read.

Recommended by Katie D.


Knitting vintage : 30 knitting projects inspired by period fashions

 

 

 

Knitting vintage : 30 knitting projects inspired by period fashions

By Claire Montgomerie

Try your hand at this collection of vintage inspired knitting projects. Ranging from the roaring twenties to the dramatic eighties these patterns will have you stepping back in time and stepping out in fashion. In keeping with the theme with this year's All Alexandria Reads book, When Washington Was in Vogue, take a look at the specific 1920's patterns including a string of beads, a fringed flapper top, and a classy cloche. Like to craft? Don't miss our upcoming AAR craft programs!

Recommended by April D.

The Ghost Bride

 

 

 

The Ghost Bride

By Yangsze Choo

Set at the end of the eighteenth century in Malaysia, The Ghost Bride tells the story of Li Lan, daughter of a once-prosperous family on the brink of ruin. When approached by a wealthy family to be the bride of their deceased son, Li Lan finds herself drawn against her will into the complicated shadow world of the Chinese afterlife. From being a sheltered daughter of privilege, she must find the courage and skill to investigate secrets and treacheries that put both her earthly and spirit existence in danger.

Recommended by Julie D.


Bend-the-rules Sewing: the essential guide to a whole new way to sew

 

 

 

Bend-the-rules Sewing: the essential guide to a whole new way to sew

By Amy Karol

A great book for beginners, this book will walk you through sewing basic projects such as bibs, tote bags, aprons and more. The author encourages you to take her basic patterns and put your own spin on them. Clear instructions and fun ideas make this a great reference for more experienced sewers as well. Dust off your sewing machine and get busy! 

Recommended by Jessica S.

The king's grave : the discovery of Richard III's lost burial place and the clues it holds

 

 

 

The king's grave : the discovery of Richard III's lost burial place and the clues it holds

By Philippa Langley & Michael K. Jones

They found King Richard III in the parking lot! And was he really the evil monster portrayed in Shakespeare's play? The book is an engrossing read; chapters alternate between the 15th and 21st centuries describing the discovery of Richard III's remains in Leicester and the story of the last Plantagenet king. 

Recommended by V. V.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

 

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" is a wonderful story about a personal journey in an era of change. The protagonist, Janie, has a deep understanding of what it means to know freedom, independence, love, compassion, jealousy, and empathy. Her story gives the reader insight about life for African-Americans living in Florida, in the early 20th century.

Recommended by Leo B.

Life on the refrigerator door : notes between a mother and daughter : a novel in notes

 

 

Life on the refrigerator door : notes between a mother and daughter : a novel in notes

By Alice Kuipers

Like the 2014 All Alexandria Reads selection, this book is told entirely in letters... or notes on a refrigerator door to be more exact. This is a beautiful story of a mother and a teen daughter whose busy lives are keeping them apart. Through their notes see how they cope when they have to face a crisis, and how their relationship and love grows as a result.

Recommended by Samantha P.

A Nation Within A Nation: Organizing African-American Communities Before the Civil War

 

 

A Nation Within A Nation: Organizing African-American Communities Before the Civil War

By John Earnest

African Americans were agents of change in coherent communities before Emancipation. Free and enslaved people organized institutions to uplift and improve the lives of men, women, and children. They established mutual benefit societies, fraternal organizations, schools, churches, publishing concerns, and other associations.

Recommended by Leslie A.