Announcing: RFPL’s Staff Picks 2013

This year, staff at River Forest Library have put together their top 3 book recommendations of the year. These books didn’t have to be published this year, though the majority were. There were three books: Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein that appeared on multiple staff member’s lists.

Each book has a short summary taken from the catalog record. Each title is linked to the catalog so that you can easily request it. Happy reading!

blood and beautycodenameverityfangirl

Ted B.

  • Blood and Beauty: The Borgias by Sara Dunant
    • A tale inspired by the lives of Borgia siblings Lucretia and Cesare traces the family’s rise in the aftermath of Rodrigo Borgia’s rise to the papacy, during which war, a terrifying sexual plague, and the family’s notorious reputation forge an intimate bond between brother and sister.
  • Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
    • Private investigator Cormoran Strike investigates the death of Lula Landry, a celebrity. Written under J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym.
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
    • Cassie Sullivan, the survivor of an alien invasion, must rescue her young brother from the enemy with help from a boy who may be one of them

Lisa E.

  • Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant
    • A tale inspired by the lives of Borgia siblings Lucretia and Cesare traces the family’s rise in the aftermath of Rodrigo Borgia’s rise to the papacy, during which war, a terrifying sexual plague, and the family’s notorious reputation forge an intimate bond between brother and sister.
  • One Summer:America. 1927 by Bill  Bryson
    • Bryson examines closely the events and personalities of the summer of 1927 when America’s story was one of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy.
  • One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
    • Drew Silver learns he needs life saving heart surgery, but opts out of it in order to repair family relationships.

Victoria M.

  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
    • Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family’s struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
    • When his wife disappears on their anniversary, Nick starts having cringe-worthy daydreams and becomes oddly evasive, eschewing his golden boy past.
  • Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
    • In her trademark style, Mary Roach investigates the beginning, and end, of our food, addressing such questions as why crunchy food is so appealing, how much we can eat before our stomachs burst, and whether constipation killed Elvis.

Tara B.

  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
    • This powerful debut novel follows the story of Kvothe, the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
  • Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
    • A mixture of history and fantasy, myth and magic, legend and love that only Juliet Marillier could write.
  • Savvy by Ingrid Law
    • Recounts the adventures of Mibs Beaumont, whose thirteenth birthday has revealed her “savvy”–a magical power unique to each member of her family–just as her father is injured in a terrible accident.

Mary Ann M.

  • The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders
    • In this fascinating exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction.
  • The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
    • In belle époque Paris, the Van Goethem sisters struggle for survival after the sudden death of their father, a situation that prompts young Marie’s ballet training and her introduction to a genius painter.
  • The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s by Roseanne Montillo
    • Motillo brings to life the fascinating times, startling science, and real-life horrors behind Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein.

Ashley W.

  • Sugar by Jewel Parker Rhodes
    • In 1870, Reconstruction brings big changes to the Louisiana sugar plantation where spunky ten-year-old Sugar has always lived, including her friendship with Billy, the son of her former master, and the arrival of workmen from China.
  • Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
    • Dellarobia Turnbow, a farm wife, hikes up a mountain road towards a secret tryst, only to discover a forested valley with what looks like a lake of fire.
  • The Woods by Harlan Coben
    • Twenty years after Paul Copeland’s sister walked into the woods, never to be seen again, evidence links him to a murder victim who could be the boy who disappeared along with her and raises the possibility that she may still be alive.

Sara B.

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
    • Feeling cast off when her best friend outgrows their shared love for a favorite celebrity, Cath, a dedicated fan-fiction writer, struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words and worrying about her fragile father.
  • The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
    • Sixteen-year-old Ruby breaks out of a government-run ‘rehabilitation camp’ for teens who acquired dangerous powers after surviving a virus that wiped out most American children.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
    • Nineteen-year-old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

Blaise D.

  • A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
    • For readers of Jonathan Franzen and Richard Russo, Dee’s novels are masterful works of literary fiction. In this sharply observed tale of self-invention and public scandal, Dee raises a trenchant question: what do we really want when we ask for forgiveness?
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (audiobook)
    • In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life.
  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (audiobook)
    • A novel that spans fifty years. The Italian housekeeper and his long-lost American starlet; the producer who once brought them together, and his assistant. A glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.

Anna V.

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
    • Feeling cast off when her best friend outgrows their shared love for a favorite celebrity, Cath, a dedicated fan-fiction writer, struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words and worrying about her fragile father.
  • Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
    • In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City.
  • Parasite by Mira Grant
    • Genetically engineered tapeworms that protect most of the human populace from illness, boost everyone’s immune system, and even secrete designer drugs begin to change and want out of human bodies they occupy.

Genna M.

  • Lexicon by Max Barry
    • Emily Ruff belongs to a secretive, influential organization whose “poets” can break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts.
  • Wool by Hugh Howey
    • In a ruined and toxic landscape, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
    • A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe–and built her back up again.

Dorothy H.

  • Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
    • A narrative account of the twentieth president’s political career offers insight into his background as a scholar and Civil War hero, his battles against the corrupt establishment, and Alexander Graham Bell’s failed attempt to save him from an assassin’s bullet.
  • Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
    • Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.
  • After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story by Michael Hainey
    • A decade in the writing, the haunting story of a son’s quest to understand the mystery of his father’s death– a universal memoir about the secrets families keep and the role they play in making us who we are.

Margaret B.

  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
    • In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker
    • In this irresistibly imagined below stairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage.
  • The Light Between Oceans M.L. Stedman
    • A novel set on a remote Australian island, where a childless couple live quietly running a lighthouse, until a boat carrying a baby washes ashore.

Dana J.

  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
    • In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.
  • The Time Between by Karen White
    • Seeking atonement over her guilt that she caused her sister’s paralysis, Eleanor takes a job caring for an elderly woman and becomes caught up in the woman’s life of passion, danger, heartache, and deception in Hungary during World War II.
  • The Lovebird by Natalie Brown
    • Harboring sympathy for helpless creatures, Margie falls in love with her charismatic but troubled Latin professor and joins a group of animal-rights activists whose activities force her to take refuge on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana.

Sue Q.

  • Transatlantic by Collum McCann
    • A tale spanning 150 years and two continents reimagines the peace efforts of democracy champion Frederick Douglass, Senator George Mitchell and World War I airmen John Alcock and Teddy Brown through the experiences of four generations of women from a matriarchal clan.
  • The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
    • Catalyzed by a nephew’s thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
    • Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Kim M. (*This was mistakenly left out of the original posting*)

  • The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
    • Surviving a pandemic disease that has killed everyone he knows, a pilot establishes a shelter in an abandoned airport hangar before hearing a random radio transmission that compels him to risk his life to seek out other survivors.
  • Someone by Alice McDermott
    • “The story of a Brooklyn-born woman’s life – her family, her neighborhood, her daily trials and triumphs – from childhood to old age”–Provided by the publisher.
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
    • When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.
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6 thoughts on “Announcing: RFPL’s Staff Picks 2013

  1. Pingback: Spotlight: Announcing RFPL Staff’s 2014 Best Books of the Year! | RFPL Reads

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