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July Staff Picks

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


I hate to leave this beautiful place



I hate to leave this beautiful place

By Howard Norman

Take an unforgettable journey with the author of novels, such as The Bird Artist, as Norman meditates on his boyhood working in a bookmobile, translating Inuit tales in the Canadian Arctic, studying birds in Point Reyes, and most recently facing inconceivable horror and tragedy invading his home and hearth. Read one of the most quietly spellbinding books you'll read this summer.

Recommended by Caroline P.

The thing around your neck



Lookaway, Lookaway

By Wilton Barnhardt

I listened to this novel as an audiobook. The story tells of the Jarvis-Johnston family from Charlotte, NC. The matriarch, Jerene, tries to maintain a respectable façade for the family despite the unseemly events her 4 children and brother seem to get into on a regular basis. The narrator, actor Scott Sheperd, expertly portrays all characters. A best pick of 2013 for Slate Magazine and Kirkus Magazine, which says "it is the Southern novel for the 21st century." Also available as an eAudiobook on OverDrive.

Recommended by A. Williams





By Mary Beth Keane

The fictionalized account of the life of Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. This story will be sure to please those that love a good medical drama and those who love the stories of strong, courageous women.

Recommended by Samantha P.

Alexandria, Virginia Pottery 1792-1876



By Eddie L. Wilder

Local author traces the history of pottery manufacture from earthenware to stoneware. Wilder reveals new information about the craftsmen, merchants, and businessmen. Includes 700+ color images (maps, photos and illustrations).

Recommended by Leslie A.

The traitor's wife : a novel : the woman behind Benedict Arnold and the plan to betray America



The traitor's wife : a novel : the woman behind Benedict Arnold and the plan to betray America

By Allison Pataki

The name Benedict Arnold is synonymous with traitor but what lead to this decorated General betraying his country? Allison Pataki tells the story of Peggy Shippen who became Mrs. Benedict Arnold through the eyes of a fictional ladies maid Clara. Clara becomes witness to all the scheming of Peggy Arnold and the eventual act of betrayal. This is a fantastic book.

Recommended by Katie D.

The Thing Around Your Neck



The Thing Around Your Neck

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nominated for the Booker Prize for her first novel, The Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck is a beautiful collection of short stories that explore Nigerian and Nigerian American life. The stories depict the complexities of family, gender, and nationality with powerful and brilliant prose. Also available as an eBook on OverDrive and eAudiobook on OneClickdigital.

Recommended by Sarah R. S.

The queen's dwarf



The queen's dwarf

By Ella March Chase

This dwarf is not George R.R. Martin's Imp. If you're looking for a grown-up version of the Tale of Despereaux, this is it. A physically small (18" tall!) champion of the queen does his best to keep her safe, in spite of his role in court intrigues intended to destroy her and undermine the king. Based on a true tale of a little person, this historical novel captures the complicated political climate of the Stuart court of Charles the First. You also watch the development of butcher's boy Jeffery Hudson's into Lord Minimus, foremost among the queen's favorites and staunchest defender.

Recommended by Kym R.

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