Spotlight On…Self Help Classics You Never Got Around To Reading

RFPL has some great books to help you communicate, be creative, work on relationships, and contemplate your best self.

It’s great to keep up with all the newly released books, but there are some really great classic self-help books as well. You may recognize many on this list, but how many have you really read? Browse through and see if any of these self – help and motivational titles will help you reach your New Year’s goals.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. – publisher summary

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray

Once upon a time Martians and Venusians met, fell in love, and had happy relationships together because they respected and accepted their differences. Then they came to earth and amnesia set in: they forgot they were from different planets.

Using this metaphor to illustrate the commonly occurring conflicts between men and women, Gray explains how these differences can come between the sexes and prohibit mutually fulfilling loving relationships. Based on years of successful counseling of couples, he gives advice on how to counteract these differences in communication styles, emotional needs and modes of behavior to promote a greater understanding between individual partners. – publisher summary

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other. Chapters are categorized by love language for easy reference, and each one ends with simple steps to express a specific language to your spouse and guide your marriage in the right direction. A newly designed love languages assessment will help you understand and strengthen your relationship. You can build a lasting, loving marriage together.- publisher summary

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

In the original Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937, Hill draws on stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other millionaires of his generation to illustrate his principles. In the updated version, Arthur R. Pell, Ph.D., a nationally known author, lecturer, and consultant in human resources management and an expert in applying Hill’s thought, deftly interweaves anecdotes of how contemporary millionaires and billionaires, such as Bill Gates, Mary Kay Ash, Dave Thomas, and Sir John Templeton, achieved their wealth. Outmoded or arcane terminology and examples are faithfully refreshed to preclude any stumbling blocks to a new generation of readers – publisher summary

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. –publisher summary

Also try: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. –publisher summary

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, this book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live. The narrator’s relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning;the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, this classic is a touching and transcendent book of life.– publisher summary

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

Most people are fearful of change because they don’t believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change. – publisher summary

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams. – publisher summary

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The author describes his transition from despair to self-realization soon after his 29th birthday. Tolle took another ten years to understand this transformation, during which time he evolved a philosophy that has parallels in Buddhism, relaxation techniques, and meditation theory but is also eminently practical. In The Power of Now he shows readers how to recognize themselves as the creators of their own pain, and how to have a pain-free existence by living fully in the present. Accessing the deepest self, the true self, can be learned, he says, by freeing ourselves from the conflicting, unreasonable demands of the mind and living present, fully, and intensely, in the Now. – publisher summary

The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

In The Four Agreements don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. – publisher summary


Let us know in the comments if any of these were helpful for you!

Spotlight: Announcing RFPL Staff’s 2014 Best Books of the Year!

For the second year in a row, we are pleased to present you with a list of our handpicked, best-of-the-year books from our fabulous staff. Curious to see last year’s picks? Click here.

Some favorites that appeared several times included The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

For each book, there is a brief description taken from the publisher or library catalog. The link will take you to our records, in many cases we own these books in print, audiobook, e-book and e-audiobook. Read one of our favorites, and then tell us how it was!

Comment with your favorite books of the year in the comments section– we’d love to hear from you!


  • Marriage and Civilization by William Tucker
    • Monogamous marriage built civilization; will its collapse destroy it? Documents the historical and anthropological story behind how monogamous, lifelong partnerships are the driving force behind the creation and rise of civilization.
  • The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin
    • From the moment Chief Justice Roberts botched Barack Obama’s oath of office, the relationship between the Court and the White House has been a fraught one.  Jeffrey Toobin brilliantly portrays key personalities and cases and shows how the President was fatally slow to realize the importance of the judicial branch to his agenda.


  • The Goldfinch  by Donna Tartt
    • A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend’s family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith 
    • A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide. This is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.


  • Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
    • For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.
  • One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak
    • Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader


  • The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
    • Engaging the services of a miniaturist to furnish a cabinet-sized replica of her new home, 18-year-old Nella Oortman, the wife of an illustrious merchant trader, soon discovers that the artist’s tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.


  • The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French. First in series: In the Woods
    • Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. The case resonates with similarities to a murder committed twenty years before that involved two children and the young Ryan.
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
    • Taking a job as an assistant to extreme sports enthusiast Will, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident, Louisa struggles with her employer’s acerbic moods and learns of his shocking plans before demonstrating to him that life is still worth living.


  • We Were Liars by E.L. Lockhart
    • Spending the summers on her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.
  • Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Phillips
    • A down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows finds herself trapped on a remote island off the coast of Maine with a sexy horror novelist who knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands.


  • The Visitors by Sally Beauman
    • Built around Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, this evocative novel. . . blends fact and fiction to recreate a lost world that’s still fiercely enthralling and relevant today
  • Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman
    • Meet Jana Bibi, a Scottish woman helping to save the small town in India she has grown to call home and the oddball characters she considers family.


  • Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
    • British secret agent James Bond assumes the identity of a captured courier and solicits the help of gorgeous Tiffany Case, the diamond smugglers’ American go-between.
  • Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag
    •  Against Interpretation was Susan Sontag’s first collection of essays and is a modern classic. Originally published in 1966, it has never gone out of print and has influenced generations of readers all over the world. It includes the famous essays “Notes on Camp” and “Against Interpretation,” as well as her impassioned discussions of Sartre, Camus, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, Levi-Strauss, science-fiction movies, psychoanalysis, and contemporary religious thought.


  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
    • Alice Metcalf was a devoted mother, loving wife, and accomplished scientist who studied grief among elephants. Yet it’s been a decade since she disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind her small daughter, husband, and the animals to which she devoted her life.
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
    • Follows three mothers, each at a crossroads, and their potential involvement in a riot at a school trivia night that leaves one parent dead in what appears to be a tragic accident, but which evidence shows might have been premeditated.


  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself
  • Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
    • Living in an igloo of ice and trash bags half a year after a cataclysmic nuclear disaster, Emily, convinced that she will be hated as the daughter of the drunken father who caused the meltdown, assumes a fictional identity while protecting a homeless boy.

Mary Ann

  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
    • When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world–even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.
  • Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
    • On November 14, 1889, two young female journalists raced against one another, determined to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional hero and circle the globe in less than 80 days. The dramatic race that ensued would span 28,000 miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors’ lives forever.


  • The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
    • When four twelve-year-olds, including Logan, who has grown up never leaving his parents’ Life Is Sweet candy factory, compete in the Confectionary Association’s annual contest, they unexpectedly become friends and uncover secrets about themselves during the process.
  • 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


  • Grandmaster by David Klass
    • A father-son chess tournament reveals the dark side of the game
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
    • The Pickles are new to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, a town which legend says was once magic–but Felicity is convinced the magic is still there, and with the help of her new friend Jonah the Beedle she hopes to bring the magic back.


  • 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.
  • The Light Between Oceans by 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

Share your favorite books of 2014 in the comments below, or stop by the library and talk to us about your favorites!


Spotlight On: Modern Horror Novels Guaranteed to Leave Your Spine Tingling

Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Tell-Tale Heart are usually well-known to readers as classic horror stories, but where do you turn when you’ve already read all the classics? Here is a list of some modern horror novels that are guaranteed to leave your spine tingling!

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

An easy scare is accomplished through fear of the unknown; describing the noise of a rasping breath in an empty room, the screech of fingernails across a windowpane–the descriptions are vague enough to let your mind scramble to fill in the blanks. A more difficult feat is spooking your readers while showing them exactly what it is that they should be afraid of. Carroll’s lush and evocative artwork paired with her sparing, at times poetic, and always horrifying stories does just that. Through the Woods will leave you afraid, not of a nameless bogeyman, but of the images and creatures she conjures through her pen.

John Dies At the End by David Wong

“David Wong’s freakishly inventive monsters, alternate universes, and perverted humor can’t truly be served by special effects. At first, Wong (the pen name for online humorist Jason Pargin) published various short stories about the absurd exploits of main characters David and John, two college dropouts turned overmatched paranormal hunters. Riding mentally high on a brain-scrambling drug called “Soy Sauce,” the guys do battle with giant meat monsters (yes, uncooked hamburgers and other frozen beef), penis doorknobs, and talking dogs.

Though it may not be the scariest book, John Dies At The End is certainly the funniest, not to mention one of the most creative.” – Summary from Matt Barone of

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Author of the best-selling Gone Girl (now a movie!), Gillian Flynn blindsided horror readers in 2006 with her work Sharp Objects. “Flynn’s protagonist is Camille Parker, a newspaper reporter who once lived in an asylum, due to her obsession with self-cutting. She gets assigned a story that’s happening back in her hometown, where a young girl has gone missing and a killer is on the loose. And, as the bait-and-switch ending of Sharp Objects makes abundantly clear, Camille’s reality goes from unstable to painfully undesirable.” – Summary from Matt Barone of


Horns by Joe Hill (RFPL owns the eBook, but a print copy can be obtained through SWAN)

“We’ve all been there: After a night filled with more alcoholic beverages than one’s brain can handle, you wake up with a beastly hangover and no recollection of what happened before bedtime. But how would you react if that killer headache was compounded by a pair of pointy horns sticking out of your temples? You’d probably never sip on Hennessy ever again.

For Ig Parrish, the protagonist in Joe Hill’s heartfelt and devilish character studyHorns, his new built-in head accessories turn him into the world’s greatest listener: Everyone, in the presence of Ig’s horns, tells him their most fiendish desires, such as who they want to kill, and, in some cases, who they’ve already murdered. Which leads Ig on a chase to once and for all identify the person who left his girlfriend’s corpse lying in the woods.” – Summary by Matt Barone of

Weekly Spotlight On: London

This week Clarence House (the royal residence of Prince Charles) announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child. Follow Twitter hashtag #RoyalBaby to read more about what the world is saying about the news.

There will be plenty of news stories circulating again about the Royal family. RFPL has a good number of books about the British Monarchy and the history of London, so we are profiling some for you here!

Try some of our biographies on Kate. In print we have Kate Middleton: From Commoner to Ducchess of Cambridge by Kate Shoup. In ebook format we have Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nichol and Kate: the Making of Princess by Claudia Joseph. Or try some of our books about the marriage of William and Kate. (Click on the image of the book to be redirected to the catalog.)

Insert Cover Insert Cover Insert Cover Insert Cover

Looking for some books about London? Try some of these. Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth is a very popular memoir that was also adapted into a PBS TV show, about the author’s experience as a midwife in London’s East End in the 1950’s. Looking for a book about the pop culture of London in the 1960’s? Check out Ready, Steady, Go! by Shawn Levy. For a book of unique historical occurrences, try Bizarre London by David Long or London: The Secrets and the Splendour by Nicholas Yapp. (Click on the image of the book to be redirected to the catalog.)

Insert Cover Insert Cover Insert Cover Insert Cover

What is your favorite book about London or set in London?

Staff Reading Buzz: The Good Girl

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Request the print version

Request the ebook version

Recently, three of us here at RFPL (Dorothy, Genna, and Victoria) have read The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. It’s a great page-turning novel with some local appeal: it’s set in Chicago. It’s the story of a young woman who goes missing. She’s an inner-city teacher, and her parents are well-to-do: a Chicago judge and a socialite. This is a debut author and it’s got some great twists and turns! A great mystery/thriller kind of book. Watch the official book trailer from the company below:


Spotlight: Novel Translations

I recently read Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog and loved all the intricate details of Parisian lifestyle. The lives of the characters were a bit bleak, but the French also have different attitudes than we Americans do. So I found it to be very interesting and enlightening. Below is a list of other novels that have been translated from different languages. Hopefully these books can provide insight onto other cultures!

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

elegance of the hedgehogTranslated from French.


This book takes place in a bourgeois apartment building in Paris, where Renee is the concierge. She is plain on the outside and hides the fact that she is very cultured and enjoys art and philsophy. One of the residents of the building, Paloma, is a 12 year old who is very intelligent but has decided that she wants to end her life on her 13th birthday. Paloma and Renee both hide their inner qualities, and this book explores that contradiction in a beautiful way.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

ruby redTranslated from German.

This teen novel tells the story of sixteen year old Gwyneth who has the gene for time-travel. She travels through 18th century and contemporary London with Gideon. This book is full of romance and fantasy.

  • 2013 Nominated Beehive Young Adults’ Book Award
  • 2014 Nominated Young Reader’s Choice Award


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque


Translated from German.

This is a World War I story that was originally written in 1929. It tells of Paul, who enlists in the army. Along with other youthful soldiers, they discover that being a soldier is not as glorious as they expected. The book details the stressful conditions of war and the struggle to return to civilian life. Considered to be one of the great war stories.

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

keeperlostTranslated from Danish.

This mystery is part of a series of books called Department Q. Chief detective Carl Mørck, delegated to cold cases after a gunshot wound, finds out he is now in charge of Department Q, which is in the basement. He comes across the case of a female politician who has been missing for five years.Read the book to find out if Carl can solve this “lost cause” case.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

alchemistTranslated from Portuguese.

This novel tells an allegorical story a boy who wants to travel through Andalusia, Spain. He has a dream about a child telling him to visit the Egyptian pyramids to find treasure there. All of Coehlo’s books feel very dreamy and mystical.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

kafkaTranslated from Japanese.

This story revolves around the characters Kafka Tamura, a runaway teenage boy, and Nakata, an older man with a wound from the war that won’t heal.

From the catalog: “Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle–yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.”

  • 2005 Won New York Times Notable Books of the Year
  • 2006 Won American Library Association Notable Books
  • 2006 Nominated Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
  • 2006 Nominated Book Sense Book of the Year
  • 2005 Nominated Los Angeles Times Book Prizes
  • 2006 Nominated World Fantasy Awards
  • 2005 Won New York Times Editors’ Choice

The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paulo Giordano

solitudeprimeThis is translated from Italian.

It tells the story of Alice and Mattia, who have both experienced a childhood tragedy. The two meet as teens and discover in each other kindred spirits. Mattia and Alice are seperated for a while when Mattia takes a research position far away from Alice, but then are reunited. An international bestseller about loneliness and love.


Spotlight On: I Spy, You Spy, We All Spy…Books!

There are a number of great books out featuring stories of spies and other sleuths. There is something really captivating about people who spy on others. Here’s a list (of both new and old titles) to get you started with your sleuth-y reading.

The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames by Kai Bird

good spyOn April 18, 1983, a bomb exploded outside the American Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people.  The attack was a geopolitical turning point. It marked the beginning of Hezbollah as a political force, but even more important, it eliminated America’s most influential and effective intelligence officer in the Middle East – CIA operative Robert Ames.  What set Ames apart from his peers was his extraordinary ability to form deep, meaningful connections with key Arab intelligence figures. Some operatives relied on threats and subterfuge, but Ames worked by building friendships and emphasizing shared values – never more notably than with Yasir Arafat’s charismatic intelligence chief and heir apparent Ali Hassan Salameh (aka “The Red Prince”). Ames’ deepening relationship with Salameh held the potential for a lasting peace.  Within a few years, though, both men were killed by assassins, and America’s relations with the Arab world began heading down a path that culminated in 9/11, the War on Terror, and the current fog of mistrust.

Bird, who as a child lived in the Beirut Embassy and knew Ames as a neighbor when he was twelve years old, spent years researching The Good Spy.  Not only does the book draw on hours of interviews with Ames’ widow, and quotes from hundreds of Ames’ private letters, it’s woven from interviews with scores of current and former American, Israeli, and Palestinian intelligence officers as well as other players in the Middle East “Great Game.” – catalog summary

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris 

spyThis is the story of the infamous Dreyfus affair told as achillingly dark, hard-edged novel of conspiracy and espionage. Paris in 1895. Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, has just been convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil’s Island, and stripped of his rank in front of a baying crowd of twenty-thousand. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, the ambitious, intellectual, recently promoted head of the counterespionage agency that “proved” Dreyfus had passed secrets to the Germans. At first, Picquart firmly believes in Dreyfus’s guilt. But it is not long after Dreyfus is delivered to his desolate prison that Picquart stumbles on information that leads him to suspect that there is still a spy at large in the French military. – from catalog summary

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner

legacy of ashesFor the last sixty years, the CIA has managed to maintain a formidable reputation in spite of its terrible record, burying its blunders in top-secret archives. Its mission was to know the world. When it did not succeed, it set out to change the world. Its failures have handed us, in the words of President Eisenhower, “a legacy of ashes.”

Now Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tim Weiner offers the first definitive history of the CIA—and everything is on the record. LEGACY OF ASHES is based on more than 50,000 documents, primarily from the archives of the CIA itself, and hundreds of interviews with CIA veterans, including ten Directors of Central Intelligence. It takes the CIA from its creation after World War II, through its battles in the cold war and the war on terror, to its near-collapse after 9/ll. – catalog summary

  • 2007 Won National Book Awards
  • 2007 Nominated National Book Critics Circle Awards
  • 2008 Nominated Lionel Gelber Prize
  • 2007 Won Los Angeles Times Book Prizes
  • 2007 Won Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
  • 2007 Won New York Times Notable Books of the Year

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

liarKaren Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it. – catalog summary

The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer (book 1 of Milo Weaver series)

the touristMilo Weaver is drawn into a conspiracy that links riots in the Sudan, an assassin committing suicide and an old friend who’s been accused of selling secrets to the Chinese. Once the CIA and Homeland Security are after him, the only way for him to survive is to return, headfirst, into Tourism. – Novelist summary

Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

portraitofaspyAfter failing to stop a suicide bomber attack in London, master art restorer and assassin Gabriel Allon is summoned by the CIA and is faced with an organization riddled with dissent–and ill-equipped to deal with the deadly new face of global jihadist terror. – catalog summary

The Accident by Chris Pavone

accidentFeverishly paging through a disturbing anonymous manuscript that she believes has world-changing potential, New York literary agent Isabel Reed catches the attentions of Copenhagen veteran station chief Hayden Gray, who resolves to keep the book’s secrets from being exposed.

– from catalog summary

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

angelmakerJoe Spork spends his days fixing antique clocks. The son of infamous London criminal Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, he has turned his back on his family’s mobster history and aims to live a quiet life. That orderly existence is suddenly upended when Joe activates a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism. His client, Edie Banister, is more than the kindly old lady she appears to be–she’s a retired international secret agent. And the device? It’s a 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the British government and a diabolical South Asian dictator who is also Edie’s old arch-nemesis. On the upside, Joe’s got a girl: a bold receptionist named Polly whose smarts, savvy and sex appeal may be just what he needs. With Joe’s once-quiet world suddenly overrun by mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realizes that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago and pick up his father’s old gun . . .- from catalog summary

  • 2012 Nominated Los Angeles Times Book Prizes
  • 2013 Nominated Arthur C. Clarke Award
  • 2013 Nominated Locus Awards

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre

double crossTraces the sophisticated D-Day operation through which extraordinary spies deceived the Nazis about the location of the Allied attack, profiling the successful Double Cross System and the remarkable individuals who used the program to save thousands of lives. – summary from catalog

  • 2012 Nominated Agatha Award
  • 2013 Nominated Edgar Awards (Edgar Allan Poe Awards)
  • 2012 Won Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

etiquetteIt’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners–and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs.Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a properlady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage–in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail’s legions of fans have come to adore. – catalog summary