Sara’s March Recommendation

The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel

thekidtable“This book was funny, well written, and true to life. It’s a hilarious insight into life and all the debilitating psychoses you might develop along the way. This book would make an amazing movie, it’s almost a screenplay already. You’re welcome Sony or 21st Century Fox!” – Sara

Explores the quirky dynamics in an extended family full of close-knit cousins who both help and hinder each other as they celebrate holidays and momentous occasions together. – swan catalog

3 Similar Recommendations

Slam by Nick Hornby

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Spotlight: The First Book We Fell In Love With


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the River Forest Public Library staff have put together a nostalgic list of the books that we first fell in love with. These are the books that hooked us into reading!

Review the list for any that you yourself remember reading and enjoying. Pick up one of these classics again for some light reading.

We encourage you to share these titles with your friends and loved ones – especially those people who have yet to discover their own love of reading!

Watership Down by Richard Adams

  • Who Loves It? Fran

watership downSet in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society. – publisher summary

Here’s what Fran had to say about the book: “I think I was a pre-teen when I read this and was living in England at the time. I remember it brought me to tears. A beautiful book for young readers that has a lot of surprising lessons, considering it’s about rabbits. I think an adult would enjoy it too”

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Who Loves It? Dana

littlehouseinthebigwoodsA year in the life of two young girls growing up on the Wisconsin frontier, as they help their mother with the daily chores, enjoy their father’s stories and singing, and share special occasions when they get together with relatives or neighbors. – swan summary

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Who Loves It? Kim and Sara

littlehouseontheprairieA family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, build a well, and fight a prairie fire. – swan summary

Kim says, “The Little House on the Prairie Books were the first books I consciously chose to own and cherish.  From 1971, when the yellow paperbacks first were published, I was hooked on reading!”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  • Who Loves It? Mary Ann

Wuthering HeightsPublished a year before her death at the age of thirty, Emily Bronte’s only novel is set in the wild, bleak Yorkshire Moors. Depicting the relationship of Cathy and Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights creates a world of its own, conceived with an instinct for poetry and for the dark depths of human psychology. -publisher summary

What Mary Ann has to say about it: “All through high school, on the last day of school, I went to the library to check it out.  It was the ritual that signaled summer. —The ghost at the window, the brutality,  “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” …opening the grave to lie with Catherine’s corpse!…“I am Heathcliff.” ”

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

  • Who Loves It? Blaise and Sara

anne of green gablesAnne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her. – swan summary

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  • Who Loves It? Genna

little women“The quintessential American family story, Little Women captured readers’ hearts right from the start. A bestseller from the time it was originally published in 1868, it is the story of the four March sisters: Meg, Beth, Jo, and Amy.” – publisher summary

Here’s what Genna says about the book: “Since I don’t have any sisters of my own, the March sisters and their relationships and antics really resonated with me and fulfilled that missing part of my childhood.”

The Things They Carried  by Tim O’Brien

  • Who Loves It? Victoria

thethingstheycarriedA classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O’Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. – publisher summary


Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

  • Who Loves It? Victoria

fruits basket“Tohru Honda is an orphaned teenager who comes to live with the Sohma family in exchange for housekeeping duties, but she soon comes to know the family secret.”- novelist description

This is printed manga style, and it is read from right to left. There are 23 volumes of the book. “The 136 chapters of Fruits Basket were originally serialized in Japan . . . from July 1998 to November 2006. These were collected in 23 tankōbon volumes. . .” – Wikipedia

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

  • Who Loves It? Ellen

allofakindfamilyIt’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five young sisters — Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days. The five girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises. But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all! – summary from Novelist

Ellen says: “I found New York and the Jewish culture references fascinating and I was one of 5 sisters as well.”

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

  • Who Loves It? Sue

winnethepoohThe adventures of Christopher Robin and his friends, in which Pooh Bear uses a balloon to get honey, Piglet meets a Heffalump, and Eeyore has a birthday.

Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

  • Who Loves It? Katie

kristysgreatideaThis is the first book in the series that was published between 1986- 2000. The first 35 were written by Ann M. Martin but the others were ghost-written.

The first book follows the adventures of Kristy and the other members of the Baby-sitters Club as they deal with crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who do not always tell the truth. – swan summary 

The novel was also adapted into a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier.

American Girl series

  • Who Loves It? Katie

meetsamanthameetfelicityThese series of books were published to tell the stories of the popular dolls of the same name. American Girl books told the stories from the perspective of the girls, and each girl lived in a different time period in history. The dolls were first released in 1986.

Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckhert

  • Who Loves It? Ted

hawkshillA shy, lonely six-year-old wanders into the Canadian prairie and spends a summer under the protection of a badger. – swan summary.

1972 Nominated Newbery Medal

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne and Now We Are Six 

  • Who Loves It? Dorothy

nowwearesixwhenwewereveryyoungA collection of poems reflecting the experiences of a little English boy growing up in the early part of the twentieth century. The books are companions. – swan summary

Dorothy says: “these are the first books I remember reading!”

Alanna by Tamora Pierce

  • Who Loves It? Katie

alanna“Eleven-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.” – swan summary

Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly

  • Who Loves It? Margaret

seventeenthsummerSeventeen-year-old Angie, living with her family in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, finds herself in love for the first time the summer after high school graduation. – swan summary

Margaret says: “this one really grabbed my attention as a younger reader!”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  • Who Loves It? Margaret

prideandprejudice“Spirited Elizabeth Bennet is one of a family of five daughters, and with no male heir, the Bennet estate must someday pass to their priggish cousin William Collins. Therefore, the girls must marry well–and thus is launched the story of Elizabeth and the arrogant bachelor Mr. Darcy, in a novel renowned as the epitome of romance and wit.” – publisher summary

Margaret says: “This is the book that made me into a reader.”

American Short Stories

  • Who Loves it? Kim

classicshortstoriesKim says: “The first book that made me really fall in love with the study of literature was a collection called American Short Stories that I purchased second hand  in 1977.  I started with “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and kept going until the then-present day work of John Updike. I still reread these books often.”

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

  • Who Loves it? Dorothy

harrietthespyEleven-year-old Harriet keeps notes on her classmates and neighbors in a secret notebook, but when some of the students read the notebook, they seek revenge. – swan summary

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • Who Loves It? Anna

alittleprincessSara Crewe, a pupil at Miss Minchin’s London School, is left in poverty when her father dies, but is later rescued by a mysterious benefactor. – swan summary

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel by Lois Gladys Leppard

  • Who Loves It? Anna

mandieandthesecrettunnelIn 1900, Mandie is searching her dead uncle’s mansion for a missing will when she finds a secret tunnel and strangers who claim to be her relatives. – swan summary

Anna says: “I used to read this series all the time! This is the first book in the series.”

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene

  • Who Loves It? Sophia

nancydrewhiddenstaircaseTeenage detective Nancy Drew uses her courage and powers of deduction to solve the mysterious happenings in an old stone mansion.

Sophia says: “The entire series of Nancy Drew books was republished in the 60’s. I read this when I was in second grade and was hooked. I could not wait for my mom to bring home all of Nancy’s adventures,  and there were lots of them. My love of reading grew as I learned to read better and more confidently, all the while living vicariously through Nancy’s adventures of courage and smarts!”

Sara’s January Recommendation

Fsteelheartans of dystopian books like Divergent and The Hunger Games will love this twist on the genre. Instead of the usual natural or man-made disaster that causes the downfall of society, humanity is being suppressed by a new race of super humans called Epics. Epics began appearing when the mysterious object called Calamity appeared in the sky and they have been reigning with iron or steel fists ever since. This book shows a whole new side to the idea of super heroes and causes the reader to question what they would do if given absolute power. – Sara
3 Similar Reads
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Reboot by Amy Tintera
Not A Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

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.

Sara’s April Recommendation

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
code name verity
This book is a perfect blend of heroism, adventure, and friendship.  Though it takes place during WWII this is more of a historical fiction piece than a war novel.  The story focuses on a captured spy for the British crown nicknamed Queenie or Scottie (we don’t learn her real name until almost halfway through), and the story of her friendship with a female pilot named Maddie while she is writing her confession to her Nazi captors.  There are plenty of twists and heart-wrenching moments in this book; it is a veritable roller-coaster ride.
3 similar reads:

Sara’s March Recommendation

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo LanaganThe Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

“If you’ve read any if Margo Lanagan’s other works, especially Tender Morsels, you understand her love of creating new and strange fantasy worlds that subvert old fairytales and are grafted on top of our own reality. The Brides of Rollrock Island delivers that strange and beautiful (an often unsettling) experience again. While this book is considered YA I would definitely recommend this book for adult readers as well.

3 Similar Reads (YA Fiction)

                                               Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

                                           Witch and Wizard by James Patterson

                                               Talking to Dragons by Patricia Wrede