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Randy Davis, Associate VP of General Education and Transfer, Recommends

 

 

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

A psychological thriller about a woman who struggles with bipolar disorder who suspects her new neighbor of killing a high school student in the recent past. She decides to investigate the neighbor secretly on her own with troubling consequences for her marriage and her safety and life. Written by one of my new favorite thriller writers.

 

 

 

The Last by Hanna Jameson

A novel about the possible “end of the world”. A group of about 20 people are stranded in a hotel in a Scandinavian country after a series of deadly nuclear strikes in the U. S., Europe and elsewhere. A young girl is found dead in one of the water tanks on the roof of the hotel and the male protagonist decides to investigate. Did a good job of focusing on the social dynamics among the 20 survivors and whether they should stay or leave the hotel.

 

 

Pompeii by Robert Harris

A book about the days leading up to and after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD from one of the best writers of historical fiction. Harris combines actual historical figures like Pliny the Elder with fictional characters to create a very thrilling story about the impact of the eruption. A very well researched and gripping story. This was a book I had in my collection but never got around to reading until now.

 

 

 

Recursion by Blake Crouch

A cross between a psychological thriller and science fiction dealing with issues of memory and time travel. People in the U. S. begin to suffer from “false memory syndrome” where they have memories of a different life or different past but then about a third of the way into the story it switches to be more about time travel. Not as satisfying as his previous book “Dark Matter” which was about quantum physics and the multiverse. If you like books about “freaky” kind of weird or extreme ideas and concepts, I would recommend you read both books.

 

Hark: A Novel of the 87th Precinct by Ed McBain

A book in a long series of police procedural novels about the fictional 87th Precinct in an unidentified U. S. city. This one focuses on a recurring character in these novels known as “The Deaf Man” who is a mastermind criminal. In this installment “The Deaf Man” taunts the 87th precinct investigators and cops using anagrams and quotes from Shakespeare plays. This was another book I had in my collection and had started reading but never finished until now.

 

 

 

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

This is a story about a pre-teen boy and his friends and their relationship with the boy’s eccentric uncle Calvin in the summer in 1980’s Niagara Falls. Uncle Calvin is into the occult and takes his nephew and his friends on some creepy adventures. What I really liked about the book is that it could have gone down a very clichéd horror plot line but about two thirds in went in a totally different direction which I did not expect or predict which I really appreciated. It made for a bittersweet ending.

 

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson

A story of the days leading up to the devastating hurricane in Galveston, TX in 1900 and its aftermath. It focuses on Isaac Cline a meteorologist for the U. S. Weather Bureau who, along with others, downplayed and failed to predict the severity of the storm with deadly consequences. Written by one of the masters of social and cultural history, Erik Larson. Not my favorite by Larson but still interesting and engaging.

Listen to the audiobook. 

 

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carryrou

The story of the rise and fall of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup led by Elizabeth Holmes,  who wanted to create a compact machine that could do a whole series of blood tests in a matter of minutes that would revolutionize health care and medicine. The problem was, the machine was never able to do what the CEOs claimed. They hid actual results, made false claims and lied about their work to everyone. The book reads like an espionage thriller.

 

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

Considered by many to be the definitive account of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster because of the ten years of research done by the author as well as his access to previously secret or protected documents and materials. A very harrowing account of the disaster and its aftermath and the hubris of the Soviet leaders and system. Sets up an interesting debate about whether the nuclear scientists and engineers or the people who ran the power station were ultimately to blame for the disaster. The chapter on what radiation does to the human body is particularly gruesome and gut wrenching.

 

Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution it Inspired by Benson Bobrick

The story of how the Bible came to first be translated into English and the various other English language versions leading to the King James version. Recounts how key religious figures and British monarchs played a role in the evolution of the Bible and the role of the Bible in politics, society and culture from the 14th to the 18th centuries. This is another book I had on my bookshelf but just got around to reading.

 

 

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII by Sonia Purnell

This book tells the untold story of Virginia Hall, daughter of a well-to-do family in Baltimore, who became a spy first for the British SOE and then the American OSS during WWII in France. Instead of settling down in Virginia, she ended up living and working in France assisting the French Resistance against the Nazi takeover of that country. While she was a very skilled and talented intelligence operative she struggled with sex/gender discrimination throughout her life which is one of the running themes of the book.

Ken Solomon, Library Coordinator, Recommends

Mind Prey by John Sandford

Lucas Davenport is a Minneapolis detective with a long history of getting his man, all with a flare of style. In this story Davenport has met his match as he chases an intelligent killer who specializes in mind games. You’ll find yourself cheering for Davenport in this page-turning, action packed psychological thriller. This is just one in a series of action mysteries by Sandford.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

This work is an interesting counterfactual experiment that explores what 1960s America would be like if the U.S. had lost World War II. The East Coast is ruled by Nazi Germany, while the West Coast is ruled by Japan. Slavery is legal again. Jews have to live in hiding. Yet, it may be possible to escape to another reality where America is free. P.K. Dick is one the most influential authors of the 20th century (Blade Runner, Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau) and this is perhaps his most important work.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This is the beginning of an epic fantasy series with West African influence. She blends themes of religion, power and friendship in to an action-filled story that explores ideas of great importance today: social and political injustice, discrimination and the need for personal and societal change. The story is told from multiple points of view, causing the reader to see this fantastical world from various positions.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This book tells the story of the building of a great English cathedral in Kingsbridge. The book is a fascinating tale of good and evil as we follow the lives of the builders, the monks and the political figures of 12th century England. Follett offers something for everyone with romance, war and intrigue. This is the first book in a trilogy and the basis of the television series by the same name.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

This is the beginning of an epic fantasy series with West African influence. She blends themes of religion, power and friendship in to an action-filled story that explores ideas of great importance today: social and political injustice, discrimination and the need for personal and societal change. The story is told from multiple points of view, causing the reader to see this fantastical world from various positions.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

In this classic work Gaiman weaves action, magic, and Nordic mythology into a most-entertaining tale. He explores humanity through the lens of contrasting ancient deities to modern beliefs. Gaiman suggests that the modern dependence on media, technology and smart phones has replaced the gods of old. Now a popular television series, this book entertains the reader while at the same challenging the devices that so demand our attention.

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The first book in a truly beautiful epic fantasy. Kvothe is living under a hidden identity as a simple barkeep, when in reality he is the world’s most powerful magician and assassin. The tale of Kvothe’s coming of age and coming of power is told through a series of flashbacks as he describes his futile search for the meaning of life and love, while discovering the power that already exists within.

The Testaments by Margert Atwood

In this much anticipated sequel to The Handmaids Tale, Atwood picks up the story fifteen later. The reader is returned to the dystopian Gilead as the story is told by three women under the fascist regime. This book is timely as it follows up the TV series, as well as explores issues of gender reform in society. The reader is at the same time entertained and challenged.

Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki

Say goodbye to the clutter in your life! This book discusses the growing trend of Japanese minimalism. Sasaki weaves stories about his own journey with minimalism, tips to minimalize your life and home, and the benefits of living a minimalistic lifestyle. If you are interested in this Zen influenced trend or just need a change in your life, this is a very readable and useful book. Take advantage of the time at home during the pandemic to minimize your life.

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

King takes a break from his normal horror genre to experiment in noir as an unidentified body is found on a Maine island. The mystery deepens as the story unfolds and King explores mystery in itself. King is perhaps one of America’s greatest storytellers and The Colorado Kid is a fine example of his work, with deep ponderings and complex characters.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

This is the first in a series of books about Geralt of Rivia, a witcher who was mutated as a child to be more effective in hunting monsters. Sapkowski creates an entertaining fantasy world full of elves, dwarves, monsters and magic. This book explores themes of good and evil, as Geralt travels around looking for monsters to kill. Sapkowski’s work has inspired successful video games, graphic novels and a Netflix series.

Faculty & Staff Recommend

LIBRARIAN LISA EICHHOLTZ RECOMMENDS:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas is the author of the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling novels The Hate U Give and On the Come Up as well as Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal for Writing Your Truth. A former teen rapper who holds a BFA in creative writing, Angie was born, raised, and still resides in Mississippi. You can find her online at www.angiethomas.com.

 

PROFESSOR AMY LIEBERT RECOMMENDS:

The Poems of Emily Bronte

ABOUT: They contemplate death, life, God, and nature. They are both emotional and extremely mature and thoughtful. I am really them.

YOU SHOULD READ BECAUSE: Not only are they beautiful, but you can read a poem or two at a time. Then really stop and think about it, digest it, and even read them again. Each one is quite powerful, so don't feel like you need to rush through them all at once.

PROFESSOR DAVID COOPER RECOMMENDS:

1984 by George Orwell

ABOUT: George Orwell details how dictatorships control the news media and control what people know and think. Doublethink comes from this novel. It is especially relevant in the era of Trump who proposes alternative facts.

YOU SHOULD READ BECAUSE: This book is forever relevant as long as tyranny and dictatorships are in the world.

You can even listen to the 1984 audiobook!

PROFESSOR BREE WECHTER RECOMMENDS:

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

ABOUT: A biography about one of the most severe abuse cases in CA history. The book is told through eyes of the child who survived it.

YOU SHOULD READ IT BECAUSE: It provides such insight to an important issue that is currently relevant.

You can even listen to the audiobook on Libby!

PROFESSOR JENNY WILKERSON RECOMMENDS:

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

ABOUT: Hal is mourning the loss of her mother. She's reading tarot cards, barely getting by, while being hunted by a loan shark. One day she gets a letter telling her that her grandmother has passed away and she will be getting some kind of inheritance. While she knows the letter isn't meant for her, this inheritance could change her life. Hal decides to travel to her "grandmothers" estate and play the long lost granddaughter. This wealthy family won't miss a portion of Mrs. Westaways fortune.

YOU SHOULD READ BECAUSE: This book is eerie and perfect for this time of year. Who doesn't love secrets, family mysteries, a haunted estate, attic bedrooms, and tarot cards? I also really liked the nod to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.

 

PROFESSOR BREE WECHTER RECOMMENDS:

The Prey Series by John Sandford

For fiction, I always grab the books in the Prey series. These follow a policeman in Minneapolis and his hunt for various serial killers. The series is just a great "take my mind off reality" series where I am truly invested in the characters. There are about 30+ books in that series!

 

 

PROFESSOR BREE WECHTER RECOMMENDS:

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

ABOUT: White Fragility talks about racism and why it is such a sensitive subject for white people to talk about.

YOU SHOULD READ IT BECAUSE: It provides such insight to an important issue that is currently relevant

Online Resources

There are many great apps and websites that support readers: 

  • Find eBooks that you can read on our databases or on open source options. 
  • You can read books on Libby through your Jefferson OverDrive account. 
  • NoveList is a database that can help you find fiction book summaries and read-alikes. 
  • Worldcat can help you locate books in the libraries nearest you. 
  • Goodreads is a website and app that allows users to track what their reading, follow what friends are reading, and find new books. 
  • Book Riot is a media site dedicated to diverse books and readers.

My Book Spotlight