February Bookshelf 2024

February Bookshelf 2024

February Books


The Women, by Kristin Hannah

Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, 20-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path. As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets — and becomes — one of the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America.

After Annie, by Anna Quindlen

When Annie Brown dies suddenly, her husband, her children and her closest friend are left to find a way forward without the woman who has been the lynchpin of all their lives. Bill is overwhelmed without his beloved wife, and Annemarie wrestles with the bad habits her best friend had helped her overcome. Ali, the eldest of Annie’s children, has to grow up overnight, to care for her younger brothers and even her father, and to puzzle out for herself many of the mysteries of adult life. Over the course of the next year what saves them all is Annie, ever-present in their minds, loving but not sentimental, caring but nobody’s fool, a voice in their heads that is funny and sharp and remarkably clear.

The Atlas Maneuver, by Steve Barry

In the waning months of World War II, Japan hid vast quantities of gold and other stolen valuables in booby-trapped underground caches all across the Philippines. By 1947 some of that loot was recovered, not by treasure hunters, but by the United States government, which told no one about the find. Instead, those assets were stamped classified, shipped to Europe, and secretly assimilated into something called the Black Eagle Trust. Fast forward to the 21st century, when a retired Justice Department operative, Cotton Malone, is in Switzerland doing a favor for a friend. What was supposed to be a simple operation turns violent, and Cotton is thrust into a war between the world’s oldest bank and the CIA, a battle that directly involves the Black Eagle Trust. He quickly discovers that everything hinges on a woman from his past, who suddenly reappears harboring a host of explosive secrets centering around bitcoin. Cotton has to act. But at what cost? 


Our Ancient Faith: Lincoln, Democracy, and the American Experiment, by Allen C. Guelzo

Abraham Lincoln grappled with the greatest crisis of democracy that has ever confronted the United States. While many books have been written about his temperament, judgment and steady hand in guiding the country through the Civil War, we know less about Lincoln’s penetrating ideas and beliefs about democracy, which were every bit as important as his character in sustaining him through the crisis. Guelzo, one of America’s foremost experts on Lincoln, captures the president’s firmly held belief that democracy was the greatest political achievement in human history. He shows how Lincoln’s deep commitment to the balance between majority and minority rule enabled him to stand firm against secession while also committing the Union to reconciliation rather than recrimination in the aftermath of war.





This Book Will Make You an Artist, by Ruth Millington

Art can be intimidating, but fret no longer. With an insider’s look at 25 artists and creators including Hilma af Klint, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Claude Monet and Yayoi Kusama, plus DIY project starters, this book will make anyone both an artist and an art appreciator. (Ages 7-10).

All of Those Babies, by Mylisa Larsen

Pufflings, peeps, poults and colts, baby animals are just so darn cute. Celebrate those newborns and watch as they grow in this rhyming read-together perfect for young animal lovers. (Ages 3-6).

Love, Escargot, by Dashka Slater

Oooh la la! Escargot, the adorable French gastropod, is back for another adventure. Today is Snailentine’s Day, and Escargot is (slowly) on the way to a très bonne fête with canapés, crudités, dancing and beautiful cards to exchange with the one who makes you feel magnifique! Silly, fun and just a little French, Escargot is sure to be a giggle-inducing read-together favorite. (Ages 3-6).

Kin: Rooted in Hope, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrations by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford

North Carolina author Carole Boston Weatherford’s books have been awarded the Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. Now, Weatherford and her equally award-winning son have collaborated on this stunning collection of poems unfolding the narrative of their family over five generations. (Ages 10 and up).  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

January Bookshelf

January Bookshelf

January Books


The Curse of Pietro Houdini, by Derek B. Miller

From the Dagger Award-winning author of Norwegian by Night comes a vivid, thrilling, moving World War II art heist adventure where enemies become heroes, allies become villains, and a child learns what it means to become an adult. In August 1943, 14-year-old Massimo is all alone, attacked by thugs, and finds himself bloodied at the base of the Montecassino. It is there in the Benedictine abbey’s shadow that a charismatic and cryptic man calling himself Pietro Houdini rescues Massimo and brings him up the mountain to serve as his assistant in preserving the treasures that lie within the monastery walls. When it becomes evident that Montecassino will soon become the front line in the war, Pietro Houdini and Massimo execute a plan to smuggle three priceless Titian paintings to safety down the mountain. They are joined by a nurse concealing a nefarious past, a café owner turned murderer, a wounded German soldier, and a pair of lovers along with their injured mule, Ferrari. Together they will lie, cheat, steal, fight, kill and sin their way through battlefields to survive, all while smuggling the Renaissance masterpieces and the bag full of ancient Greek gold they have rescued from the “safe keeping” of the Germans.

Old Crimes, by Jill McCorkle

North Carolina’s McCorkle, the author of the New York Times bestselling Life After Life and Hieroglyphics, delivers a collection of stories that offers an intimate look at the moments when a person’s life changes forever. Old Crimes delves into the lives of characters who hold their secrets and misdeeds close, even as the past continues to reverberate over time and across generations. Despite the characters’ yearnings for connection, they can’t seem to tell the whole truth. In “Low Tones,” a woman uses her hearing impairment as a way to guard herself from her husband’s commentary. In “Lineman,” a telephone lineman strains to connect to his family even as he feels pushed aside in a digital world. In “Confessional,” a young couple buys a confessional booth for fun, only to discover the cost of honesty.

House of Ash and Shadow, by Leia Stone

Seventeen-year-old Fallon Bane was born with a devastating curse: a single touch from another person will cause her excruciating pain. She has accepted that she will die without ever being kissed, without even hugging her own father, though it breaks her heart every day. When her father falls ill, she breaks into the magical Gilded City to find a healer, Fae, who can save him. When Ariyon Madden agrees to help, everything Fallon knows about herself and her curse changes. During her father’s healing, Ariyon reaches out and touches Fallon’s bare skin. She waits for the agony . . . but it never comes. For the first time in her life, she imagines a new future for herself. However, that fantasy is quickly destroyed, because not only does Ariyon flee from her in disgust when he learns of her curse, he also reveals her existence to powerful Fae who want to hurt her.


Meditations by Marcus Aurelius,
translated by David V. Hicks and C. Scot Hicks

Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire at its height, yet he remained untainted by the immense wealth and absolute power that had corrupted many of his predecessors. He knew the secret of how to live the good life amid trying and often catastrophic circumstances, of how to find happiness and peace when surrounded by misery and turmoil, and how to make the right choices — even if they are more difficult — without regard for self-interest. Offering a vivid and fresh translation of this important piece of ancient literature, Meditations brings Aurelius’ inspiring words to life and shows his wisdom to be as relevant today as it was in the second century. Two brothers, both headmasters at independent schools, began translating the meditations from the original Greek by emailing back and forth over a period of years. The result is this translation that is a profound pleasure to read.




Out Cold: A Little Bruce Book, by Ryan T. Higgins

That beloved, grumpy old bear Bruce is back, and this time he’s stuck inside with a cold. When the mice decide to bring the outdoors indoors to cheer him up, things don’t quite go as planned. Now Bruce may be grumpier than ever! (Ages 2-6.)

K Is in Trouble, by Gary Clement

Are you a kid who is tragically misunderstood . . . by everyone? Do the arbitrary rules of the world puzzle and confound you? Well, meet your soulmate, K, a kid who doesn’t deserve any of the tragedies that befall him. But happen they do, and it never seems to stop! This darkly tragic graphic novel will warm the cold heart of every kid who feels they’ve been wronged by this cruel, cruel world — and may even bring tiny smiles to their faces. Fans of Roald Dahl will love this Kafkaesque ode to the long-suffering child. (Ages 8-12.)

As Night Falls: Creatures that Go Wild after Dark, by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrations by Felicita Sala

Listed among the New York Times’ best-illustrated books of 2023, this animal science-themed picture book gives a peek into the animals that come alive just as the rest of the world is quieting down. Vibrant illustrations depict animals from the microscopic to the majestic with a clever food chain twist. A bedtime book like no other, this one is sure to become a family favorite. (Ages 3-7.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.



December Books


The Exchange, by John Grisham

What became of Mitch and Abby McDeere after they exposed the crimes of Memphis law firm Bendini, Lambert and Locke and fled the country? The answer is in The Exchange, the riveting sequel to The Firm, the blockbuster thriller that launched the career of one of America’s favorite storytellers. It is now 15 years later, and Mitch and Abby are living in Manhattan, where Mitch is a partner at the largest law firm in the world. When a mentor in Rome asks him for a favor that will take him far from home, Mitch finds himself at the center of a sinister plot that has worldwide implications — and once again endangers his colleagues, friends and family.


Babusya’s Kitchen: Recipes for Living and Eating Well in Ukraine, by Returned Peace Corps Ukraine Volunteers

Peace Corps volunteers created this cookbook from the recipes they learned while serving in the small towns and villages across Ukraine. The cookbook serves as a fundraiser for Ukraine Relief Efforts through the RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) Alliance for Ukraine as well as a culinary delight. In addition to the traditional Ukrainian recipes that “provide a window into rural living,” the volunteers include recipes that helped new cooks in a foreign country share American cooking traditions with international friends.

The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair

This unknown history of color tells the unusual stories of 75 fascinating shades, dyes and hues, and the vivid history behind them. From the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague; from Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux; from acid yellow to Kelly green; and scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. St. Clair turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from into a unique study of human civilization.

Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris

No matter what your favorite holiday is, you won’t want to miss celebrating it with the author The Economist has called “one of the funniest writers alive.” Sedaris’ beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never-before-published story. Along with timeless favorites from Santaland are Sedaris’ tales of tardy trick-or-treaters (“Us and Them”); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French (“Jesus Shaves”); what to do when you’ve been locked out in a snowstorm (“Let It Snow”); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations (“Six to Eight Black Men”); what Halloween at the medical examiner’s looks like (“The Monster Mash”); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry (“Cow and Turkey”). The Country Bookshop has autographed copies.

Museum Bums, by Jack Shoulder and Mark Small

What do Hieronymus Bosch, the Roman cult of Antinous and the peach emoji all have in common? Butts, of course! Divided into six categories of keisters, this humorous history book takes you on a whirlwind tour of the finest rear ends in museums around the world — from the lusciously rendered bottoms of Renaissance paintings to the abstract curves of contemporary art. Heritage scholars and art educators Small and Shoulder pair illuminating social commentary, historical context and lively captions with captivating depictions of tasteful — if cheeky — bums in art. Including an angel slyly copping a feel in a 16th century triptych, a 25,000-year-old bodacious Venus, and Cezanne’s dreamy booty-ful bathers, this assortment of artistic behinds is both a celebration and study of the bounty of beautiful bottoms and their everlasting impressions.




How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett, illustrations by Jon Klassen

It’s the age-old question. How does he do it?  If anyone would have access to Santa’s secret file, it’s the team of Klassen and Barnett. With insider info, holiday hilarity and, well, dogs, this is going to be a must-have holiday book. (Ages 3-8.)

The Christmassy Cactus, by Beth Ferry

Oh, my, the cuteness. Cactus will poke her way into your heart in this delightful holiday story of a tiny green spiny cactus who holds her own against giant green shiny trees and proves that holiday wishes do indeed come true. (Ages 3-6.)

The Met: 5,000 Years of Awesome Objects, by Aaron Rosen, Susie Hodge, Susie Brooks, and Mary Richards

You’ll get lost in this history of art for children featuring 5000 years of the most unusual, bizarre, fascinating and awesome objects — practically a museum in itself. (Ages 8-14.)

The Jules Verne Prophecy, by Larry Schwarz and Iva-Marie Palmer

When Owen finds himself stuck in Paris for the summer with his mom, he is sure the whole vacation will be a boring flop, but a mysterious skateboarder, a rare Jules Verne book and a few new friends really turn things around. This wild ride of an adventure journeys through the most amazing sites in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the catacombs and a secret skatepark. (Ages 9-12.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.



November Books


The Little Liar, by Mitch Albom

Until his 11th birthday, Nico Krispis had never told a lie. When the Nazis invade his home in Salonika, Greece, the trustworthy boy is discovered by a German officer, who offers him a chance to save his family. All Nico has to do is convince his fellow Jewish residents to board trains heading toward “the East,” where they are promised jobs and safety. Unaware that this is all a cruel ruse, the honest boy tells the frightened passengers they will be safe. But when the final train is loaded, Nico sees his family being pushed inside. Only after it is too late does he realize he has been helping send everyone he loves to their doom. He never tells the truth again. Albom interweaves the stories of Nico, who becomes a pathological liar, his brother Sebastian and their schoolmate Fannie, who survive the death camps and marry as teenagers, and Udo Graf, the Nazi officer who duped Nico into losing his soul, in this deeply moving story about the harm we inflict with our deceits, and the power of love to ultimately redeem us.

The Vulnerables, by Sigrid Nunez

Elegy plus comedy is the only way to express how we live in the world today, says a character in this New York Times bestselling author’s ninth novel. A solitary female narrator asks what it means to be alive at this complex moment in history and considers how our present reality affects the way a person looks back on her past. Humor, to be sure, is a priceless refuge. Equally vital is connection with others, who here include an adrift member of Gen Z and a spirited parrot named Eureka. The Vulnerables reveals what happens when strangers are willing to open their hearts to each other, and how far even small acts of caring can go to ease another’s distress.


The Explorers Club: A Visual Journey Through the Past, Present, and Future of Exploration, edited by Jeff Wilser

The discovery of the North and South Poles. The summiting of Everest. The moon landing. The birth of climate change science. These are just some of the stories from The Explorers Club, the book released by the organization that, since its inception in 1904, has pushed the envelope of human curiosity. This guided tour of the club’s most riveting journeys includes hundreds of photos and fascinating anecdotes about its distinguished members, including Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong and Jane Goodall. From the darkest depths of the ocean to the highest points on Earth, and to outer space and beyond, this book shares the inspirational history of exploration.

A Woman I Know, by Mary Haverstick

The true story of a filmmaker whose unexpected investigation opened a new window onto the world of Cold War espionage, CIA secrets and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Haverstick, an independent filmmaker, thought she’d stumbled onto the project of a lifetime — a biopic of a little-known aviation legend whose story seemed to embody the hopeful spirit of the dawn of the Space Age. After receiving a mysterious warning from a government agent, what she found as she dug deeper was a darker story of double identities and female spies, a tangle of intrigue that stretched from the fields of the Congo to the shores of Cuba, from the streets of Mexico City to the dark heart of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.




Illusions in Art: Animals, by Chiêu Anh Urban

Simple illustrations of a monkey, a seal, a fox, a swan contain cleverly hidden drawings of entirely different animals in this exploration of positive and negative space. Art! Animals! Together time! There couldn’t be a more perfect “sit in my lap and read” book than this. (Ages 2-4.)

I Want 100 Dogs, by Stacy McAnulty

Getting a new pet is always a delicate negotiation between the pet “wanter” and the ultimate pet “caretaker.” This delightful new “tail” tale hilariously, yet poignantly, digs into the how, what, when and why of pet ownership. Fun for anyone considering adding a furry family member. (Ages 3-7.)

Okra Stew: A Gullah Geechee Family Celebration, by Natalie Daise

You can almost smell the salt marsh in this stunning homage to Gullah culture, father-son love, and okra. With art reminiscent of Lois Ehlert or Faith Ringgold, this one is a must for all young Southern foodies. (Ages 3-7.)

There Was a Party for Langston,
by Jason Reynolds

There was a hoopla in Harlem. A whizbanger for the wordsmiths. Young readers can celebrate the joy of Langston Hughes through the verse of Jason Reynolds and the illustrations of Jerome and Jarret Pumphrey in this must-have new picture book. (Ages 3-7.)

5,000 Years of Awesome Objects: A History of Art for Children, by Aaron Rosen, Susie Hodge, Susie Brooks,
Mary Richards

Go on a trip through the Metropolitan Museum of Art and get lost in a book that features 5,000 years of the most unusual, bizarre, fascinating and awesome objects in history including Mayan jewelry, Egyptian amulets and even American baseball cards. (Ages 8 and up.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.



October Books


The Glutton, by A.K. Blakemore

1798, France. Nuns move along the dark corridors of a Versailles hospital where the young Sister Perpetué has been tasked with sitting by the patient who must always be watched. The man, gaunt, with his sallow skin and distended belly, is dying — they say he ate a golden fork, and that it’s killing him from the inside. But that’s not all. He is rumored to have done monstrous things in his attempts to sate an insatiable appetite . . . an appetite they say tortures him still. Born in an impoverished village to a widowed young mother, Tarare was once overflowing with quiet affection: for his mother, for the plants and little creatures in the woods and fields around their house. But soon life as he knew it is violently upended. Tarare is pitched down a chaotic path through revolutionary France, left to the mercy of strangers, and increasingly, bottomlessly, ravenous. This exhilarating, disquieting novel paints a richly imagined life for The Great Tarare, The Glutton of Lyon in 18th-century France: a world of desire, hunger, poverty, chaos and survival.

Julia, by Sandra Newman

Julia Worthing is a mechanic, working in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. It’s 1984, and Britain (now called Airstrip One) has long been absorbed into the larger transatlantic nation of Oceania. Ruled by an ultra-totalitarian party whose leader is a quasi-mythical figure called Big Brother, Oceania has been at war for as long as anyone can remember. In short, everything about this world is as it is in George Orwell’s 1984. All her life, Julia has known only Oceania and, until she meets Winston Smith, she has never imagined anything else. She is an ideal citizen: cheerfully cynical, always ready with a bribe, piously repeating every political slogan while believing in nothing. She routinely breaks the rules, but also collaborates with the regime when necessary. Then one day she finds herself walking toward Winston Smith in a corridor and impulsively slips him a note, setting in motion the journey through Orwell’s now-iconic dystopia, with twists that reveal unexpected sides not only to Julia, but to other familiar figures in the 1984 universe.

The Hive and The Honey, by Paul Yoon

A boy searches for his father, a prison guard on Sakhalin Island. In Barcelona, a woman is tasked with spying on a prizefighter who may or may not be her estranged son. A samurai escorts an orphan to his countrymen in the Edo Period. A formerly incarcerated man starts a new life in a small town in upstate New York and attempts to build a family. The Hive and the Honey is a bold and indelible collection that portrays the vastness and complexity of diasporic communities, with each story bringing to light the knotty inheritances of their characters. How does a North Korean defector connect with the child she once left behind? What are the traumas that haunt a Korean settlement in Far East Russia? Yoon’s stunning stories are laced with beauty and cruelty, the work of an author writing at the very height of his powers.


Hitchcock’s Blondes: The Unforgettable Women Behind the Legendary Director’s Dark Obsession, by Laurence Leamer

Alfred Hitchcock was fixated not just on the dark, twisty stories that became his hallmark, but also on the blonde actresses who starred in many of his iconic movies. The director of North by Northwest, Rear Window and other classic films didn’t much care if they wore wigs, got their hair coloring out of a bottle or were the rarest human specimen — a natural blonde — as long as they shone with a golden veneer on camera. In Hitchcock’s Blondes, Leamer offers an intimate journey into the lives of eight legendary actresses whose stories helped chart the course of the troubled, talented director’s career, from his early days in the British film industry, to his triumphant American debut, to his Hollywood heyday and beyond. Through the stories of June Howard-Tripp, Madeleine Carroll, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and Tippi Hedren — who together starred in 14 of Hitchcock’s most notable films and who bore the brunt of his fondness and fixation — we start to see the enigmatic man himself. After all, “his blondes” (as he thought of them) knew the truths of his art, his obsessions and desires, as well as anyone. 




The Scariest Kitten in the World, by Kate Messner

Little Kitten, Vampire Puppy and Spooky Baby Goat might be scary if they weren’t so darn cute. This adorable read-aloud is fun for the fall or anytime you’re up for a giggle. (Ages 3-8.)

Things in the Basement, by Ben Hatke

When Milo is sent by his mother to fetch a sock from the basement of the historic home they’ve moved into, he finds a door in the back that he’s never seen before. Turns out, the basement of his house is enormous. In fact, there is a whole world down there. Milo learns that to face his fears he must approach even the strangest creatures with kindness in this creepy-fabulous graphic novel. (Ages 8-12.)

Forever Twelve, by Stacy McAnulty

Unlike most 12-year-olds, Ivy’s favorite holiday is the first day of school. This year that day brings not only fascinating new courses and instructors, but a new school, new rules and new friends — some of whom have a very dark secret. School, science and secrets, this one is sure to be a hit for fans of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, Coraline, or The Trials of Morrigan Crow. (Ages 10-12.)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods, by Rick Riordan

For the first time in more than 10 years there’s a new title in the Percy Jackson series. The original heroes from The Lightning Thief — Percy, Annabeth and Grover — are reunited for their biggest challenge yet, getting Percy to college when the gods are standing in his way. (Ages 9 and up.) PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.



September Books


Amazing Grace Adams, by Fran Littlewood

Grace Adams gave birth, blinked, and now suddenly she is 45, perimenopausal and stalled — the unhappiest age you can be, according to the Guardian. And today she’s really losing it. Stuck in traffic, she finally has had enough. To the astonishment of everyone, Grace gets out of her car and simply walks away. She sets off across London, armed with a £200 cake, to win back her estranged teenage daughter on her 16th birthday. Because today is the day she’ll remind her daughter that no matter how far we fall, we can always get back up again. Because Grace Adams used to be amazing. Her husband thought so. Her daughter thought so. Even Grace thought so. But everyone seems to have forgotten. Grace is about to remind them . . . and, most importantly herself.

Bright Lights, Big Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Santa Suit comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances. Newly single and unemployed, Kerry Tolliver needs a second chance. When she moves back home to her family’s Christmas tree farm in North Carolina, she is guilt-tripped into helping her brother, Murphy, sell trees in New York City. She begrudgingly agrees, but she isn’t happy about sharing a trailer with her brother in the East Village for two months. Plus, it’s been years, since before her parents’ divorce, that she’s been to the city to sell Christmas trees. Then, Kerry meets Patrick, the annoying Mercedes owner who parked in her spot for the first two days. Patrick is recently divorced, father to a 6-year-old son, and lives in the neighborhood. Can Kerry’s first impressions about the recently divorced, single father and — dare she say, handsome — neighbor be wrong?

The Fall of Ruin and Wrath, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Long ago, the world was destroyed by gods. Only nine cities were spared. Separated by vast wilderness teeming with monsters and unimaginable dangers, each city is now ruled by a guardian — royalty who feed on mortal pleasure. Born with an intuition that never fails, Calista knows her talents are of great value to the power-hungry of the world, so she lives hidden as a courtesan of the Baron of Archwood. In exchange for his protection, she grants him information. When her intuition leads her to save a traveling prince in dire trouble, the voice inside her blazes with warning — and promise. Today he’ll bring her joy. One day he’ll be her doom. But the city simmers with rebellion, and with knights and monsters at her city gates, and a hungry prince in her bed, intuition may not be enough to keep her safe.

The Vaster Wilds, by Lauren Groff

A servant girl escapes from a Colonial settlement in the wilderness, carrying nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of God that burns hot within her. What she finds will bend her belief of everything that her own civilization has taught her. At once a thrilling adventure story and a penetrating fable, The Vaster Wilds is a work of raw and prophetic power that tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history, to ask how — and if — we can adapt quickly enough to save ourselves.


The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts, by Loren Grush

When NASA sent astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s the agency excluded women from the corps, arguing that only military test pilots — a group then made up exclusively of men — had the right stuff. It was an era in which women were steered away from jobs in science and deemed unqualified for space flight. Eventually, though, NASA recognized its mistake and opened the application process to a wider array of hopefuls, regardless of race or gender. From a candidate pool of 8,000, six elite women were selected in 1978 — Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid and Rhea Seddon. The Six shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic — and sometimes deeply sexist — media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle. Together, they helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the six would make their mark.


My First Lift-the-Flap Nursery Rhymes, art by Ingela P. Arrhenius

Just what does the Itsy Bitsy Spider do when the sun comes out? Find out this and much more in this retro-cool, lift-the-flap collection of classic nursery rhymes that also includes QR codes for sing-along recordings. The perfect gift for any new baby. (Ages birth-3.)

Who Works at Night?, by Peter Arrhenius

A number of community-helper books feature police officers, firefighters and garbage collectors. In Who Works at Night? some less-seen nighttime helpers get their day in the sun. Road construction workers, night drivers and doctors are just a few of the jobs featured in this fun lift-the-flap title that’s perfect for preschool classrooms. (Ages 3-6.)

The Lost Library, by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

When 11-year-old Evan discovers a little free library that has mysteriously appeared in his town — the physical library burned to the ground years ago — he begins to investigate with no idea that two weathered books will completely upend his entire world. Narrated by a massive orange cat and an omnipresent ghost librarian, this is a story every book lover will devour. (Ages 8-12.)

Wicked Wild Poems of the Pine Tree State, by Diane Lang

From salamanders to seagulls and every tree, bush and animal in between, these poems celebrate the familiar wild living things we cherish from the Maine woods to the craggy windswept coastline. From pelicans to porcupines, blueberries to bears, dragonflies to deer, Maine holds gems of nature that are beautiful and rare. Turn a page and come inside — they’re waiting for you here! (Ages 7-18.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.



August Books


Tom Lake, by Ann Patchett

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew. Both hopeful and elegiac, Tom Lake explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety.

The Night Ship, by Jess Kidd

Based on a true story, this epic historical novel illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, 300 years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island. 1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks. 1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck. With her trademark storytelling, Kidd weaves a true work of magic about friendship, sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.

My Name Is Iris, by Brando Skyhorse

Iris Prince is starting over. After years of drifting apart, she and her husband are going through a surprisingly drama-free divorce. She’s moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and has plans for gardening, coffee clubs and spending more time with her 9-year-old daughter, Melanie. It feels like her life is finally exactly what she wants it to be. Then, one beautiful morning, she looks outside her kitchen window — and sees that a wall has appeared in her front yard overnight. Where did it come from? What does it mean? And why does it seem to keep growing? Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley startup has launched a high-tech wrist wearable called “the Band.” Pitched as a convenient, eco-friendly tool to help track local utilities and replace driver’s licenses and IDs, the Band is available only to those who can prove parental citizenship. Suddenly, Iris, a proud second-generation Mexican American, is now of “unverifiable origin,” unable to prove who she is, or where she, and her undocumented loved ones, belong. Amid a climate of fear and hate-fueled violence, Iris must confront how far she’ll go to protect what matters to her most.


The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed Art Forever, by Prudence Peiffer

In this exquisite biography, an art historian and critic captures a singular moment of community and creativity in mid-20th century New York City, bringing to life a group of struggling artists and the place they all called home, an obscure little street at the lower tip of Manhattan, Coenties Slip. For just over a decade, from 1956 to 1967, a collection of dilapidated former sail-making warehouses clustered at the lower edge of Manhattan became the quiet epicenter of the art world. Coenties Slip, a dead-end street near the water, was home to a circle of wildly talented and varied artists that included Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, James Rosenquist, Delphine Seyrig, Lenore Tawney and Jack Youngerman. As friends and inspirations to one another, they created a unique community for unbridled creative expression and experimentation, and the works they made at the Slip would go on to change the course of American art. Despite Coenties Slip’s obscurity, the entire history of Manhattan was inscribed into its cobblestones — one of the first streets and central markets of the new colony, built by enslaved people, with revolutionary meetings at the tavern just down Pearl Street. It was named by Herman Melville in Moby Dick, and the site of the boom and bust of the city’s maritime industry. The Slip’s history is entwined with that of the artists and their art — eclectic and varied — exploring how we are shaped by our environment, and how it in turn shapes our work.


When Rubin Plays, by Gracey Zhang

Beautiful music is in the ear of the beholder, and in this stunning picture book from the author/illustrator of Lala’s Words, that ear is a chorus of cats! Both a celebration of music and of new musicians, this one is sure to become a storytime favorite. (Ages 3-7.)

You Can’t Be a Pterodactyl!, by James Breakwell

Veterinarian, garbage truck driver or nurse – kids want to grow up to be all kinds of things. But Tommy? Tommy wants to be a pterodactyl. This super-silly picture book shows that determination can go a long, long way. (Ages 3-7.)

A Shell Is Cozy, by Diana Hutts Aston

A shell is a cozy, bony shelter that keeps the delicate parts of the animal tucked safely inside, but it’s also an anatomical wonder and a beautiful treasure for the patient beachcomber. This lyrical nonfiction title is chock-full of information, yet is lovely enough to be a coffee table book. Check out the entire series, which includes A Butterfly Is Patient, An Egg Is Quiet, A Rock Is Lively, A Nest Is Noisy and A Seed Is Sleepy. (Ages 3-10.)

All That’s Left to Say, by Emery Lord

Her prom night and her dress are ruined, and maybe her whole life, but Hannah absolutely believes that it was all worth it if she can find out the truth about what happened to Sophie. A beautiful exploration of grief, a friends-to-lovers romance and an emotional thriller, All That’s Left to Say will devastate you in the best kind of way. (Ages 14 and up.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.



July Books


The Displacements, by Bruce Holsinger

To all appearances, the Larsen-Hall family has everything: healthy children, a stable marriage, a lucrative career for Brantley, and the means for Daphne to pursue her art full time. Their deluxe new Miami life has just clicked into place when Luna — the world’s first Category 6 hurricane — upends everything they have taken for granted. When the storm makes landfall, it triggers a descent of another sort. Their home destroyed, two of its members missing and finances abruptly cut off, the family finds everything they assumed about their lives now up for grabs. Swept into a mass rush of evacuees from across the South, they are transported hundreds of miles to a FEMA megashelter where their new community includes an insurance-agent-turned-drug dealer, a group of vulnerable children, and a dedicated relief worker trying to keep the peace. Will “normal” ever return?

The Exhibitionist, by Charlotte Mendelson

Meet the Hanrahan family, gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for a new exhibition of his art — the first in many decades — and one he is sure will burnish his reputation forever. His three children will be there: eldest daughter Leah, always her father’s biggest champion; son Patrick, who has finally decided to strike out on his own; and daughter Jess, the youngest, who has her own momentous decision to make. And what of Lucia, Ray’s steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist too, but has always had to put her roles as wife and mother first. What will happen if she decides to change? Lucia is hiding secrets of her own. As the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice about which desires to follow. A furiously funny novel, The Exhibitionist is a dazzling exploration of art, sacrifice, toxic family politics, desire and personal freedom.

Café Unfiltered, by Jean-Philippe Blondel

At a classic café in the French provinces, anonymity, chance encounters and traumatic pasts collide against the muted background of global instability. Blondel, author of the bestselling The 6:41 to Paris, presents a moving fresco of intertwined destinies. In the span of 24 hours, a medley of characters retrace the fading patterns of their lives after a long disruption from COVID. A mother and son realize their vast differences, a man takes tea with a childhood friend he had once covertly fallen for, and a woman crosses paths with the ex who abandoned her in Australia. Amid it all, the café swirls like a kaleidoscope, bringing together customers, waiters and owners past and present. Within its walls and on its terrace, they examine the threads of their existence, laying bare their inner selves, their failed dreams, and their hopes for the uncertain future that awaits us all.


Beguiled by the Frailties of Those Who Precede Us, by Stephen E. Smith

It’s best to let former North Carolina poet laureate Shelby Stephenson describe Smith’s latest volume of poetry, his eighth. “Stephen E. Smith’s poems in Beguiled by the Frailties of Those Who Precede Us exude truths so real they haunt our memories . . . Father, mother, family, past, present, future swoop and dive into the imagination the way a whale searches for deep water.”


The Digger and the Butterfly, by Joseph Kuefler

Sometimes it takes a new friend to remind you to slow down, listen to the river, feel the wind, appreciate the sun. This is what happens when Digger befriends a butterfly and waits patiently to see what will happen next. When the butterfly finally emerges, it’s clear that Digger and his friends have also been changed forever. A lovely story with fun science facts on the life cycle of the butterfly, it’s a perfect summer read. (Ages 2-7.)

Sunshine: A Graphic Novel, by Jarrett Krosoczka

When Jarrett Krosoczka was in high school, he was part of a program that sent students to be counselors at a camp for seriously ill kids and their families. At Camp Sunshine he engaged in some of the usual rituals that come with being a camp counselor (wilderness challenges, spooky campfire stories, an extremely stinky mascot costume), but he also got a chance to meet some extraordinary kids facing extraordinary circumstances. This gem from the author of Hey, Kiddo will have you laughing out loud and crying in public. (Ages 12 and up.)

The Jules Verne Prophecy, by Larry Schwarz and Iva-Marie Palmer

When Owen finds himself stuck in Paris for the summer with his mom, he is sure the whole vacation will be a boring flop until a mysterious skateboarder, a rare Jules Verne book and a few new friends turn things around. This wild ride of an adventure journeys through the most amazing sites in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the catacombs and a secret skate park. (Ages 9-13.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.

June Bookshelf

June Bookshelf

June Books


Lady Tan’s Circle of Women, by Lisa See

From a young age, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose and they vow to be forever friends. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom. But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife — embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights. How might a woman break free of these traditions and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a captivating story of women helping other women.

Love, Theoretically, by Ali Hazelwood

The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. In another life, Elsie offers her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people-pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs. It’s a pretty sweet gig — until her carefully constructed Elsie-verse comes crashing down. Jack Smith, the annoyingly attractive and arrogant older brother of her favorite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who rules over the physics department at MIT, standing right between Elsie and her dream job. She’s prepared for an all-out war of scholarly sabotage but . . . those long, penetrating looks? Will falling into an experimentalist’s orbit finally tempt her to put her most guarded theories on love into practice?

The Quiet Tenant, by Clémence Michallon

Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man in the small upstate New York town where he lives. He’s the kind of man who always lends a hand and has a good word for everyone. But Aidan has a dark secret. He’s a kidnapper and serial killer. Aidan has murdered eight women and there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death: Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed, fearing for her life. When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his 13-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. Rachel recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years. As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, coming dangerously close to discovering Aidan’s secret.

Liberty Biscuit, by Melanie Sue Bowles

Katherine Pearl Baker — Kip for short — is the only child on her family’s rural peach farm. She longs for a pet to ease the loneliness. Hiding in the woods on the Fourth of July, Kip encounters a bedraggled donkey with one eye and a floppy ear. Immediately smitten and compelled to protect him, she feeds him biscuits and takes him home. When it is discovered that the donkey fled an abusive owner, Kip’s father reluctantly allows him to stay. Kip is elated when her grandfather agrees to help her foster the donkey, who she names “Liberty Biscuit,” along with two emaciated horses removed by the local sheriff from the same home, as the cruelty case goes to court. A court order to return the horses, and even worse, Kip’s beloved Liberty Biscuit, to the owner who had starved and beaten them throws Kip’s world into turmoil. Proceeds from his book support Bowles’ charity, Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary.


What Were You Expecting? First Words for New Parents, by Cameron Spires

This little gem will have sleep-deprived new parents laughing until they cry (or crying until they laugh). The absolute perfect first read-aloud bedtime book, the striking art is for baby while the simple text is all grown up. (Ages infant-adult.)

Daddy & Me, Side by Side, by Pierce Freelon

Camping, fishing, trekking over rocks and through the woods is fun, but even more fun when Daddy is there. Daddy & Me celebrates family traditions and shared experiences and is perfect for Father’s Day or any day. (Ages 2-6.)

Pluto! Not a Planet? Not a Problem!, by Stacy McAnulty

Outer space comes alive in McAnulty’s “Our Universe” series. Fun facts and out of this world trivia will make any reader an expert on Pluto, a unique celestial orb. (Ages 4-8.)

Monster Camp, by Sarah Henning

Ghost stories around the fire are requisite activities at most summer camps, but what if you realize the monsters at your camp are actually your fellow campers? That’s what happens in this hilarious, slightly spooky summer sleepaway tale that is the perfect read for a long summer night. (Ages 9-12.)

The Storyteller, by Brandon Hobson

Ziggy is just a regular kid, well, a regular kid who encounters talking coyotes, singing frogs, prophesying snakes, truth-telling horses, a very interesting grandma, and Cherokee spirit people, the Nunnehi. Funny, sad, wise, and jam-packed with adventure, The Storyteller may be the very best book you’ll read in 2023. (Ages 10-14.)   PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.



May Books


All the Pretty Places, by Joy Callaway

In Rye, New York, in the Gilded Age, Sadie Fremd’s dreams hinge on her family’s nursery, which has been the supplier of choice for respected landscape architects on the East Coast for decades. As the economy plummets into a depression, Sadie’s father pressures her to secure her future by marrying a wealthy man among her peerage, but Sadie’s heart is already spoken for. Rather than seek potential suitors, she pursues new business to bolster her father’s floundering nursery. The more time Sadie spends in the secluded gardens of the elite, the more she notices the hopelessness in the eyes of those outside the mansions — the poor, the grieving, the weary. Sadie has always wanted her father to pass the business to her instead of to one of her brothers, but he seems oblivious to her desire and talent, and now to her passion for providing natural beauty to those who can’t afford it. When a former employee, Sam, shows up unexpectedly, Sadie wonders if their love can be rekindled, or if his presence will simply be another reminder of a life she longs for and cannot have.

The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece, by Tom Hanks

From the Academy Award-winning actor and bestselling author, Hanks’ debut novel is the story of the making of a colossal, star-studded, multi-million-dollar superhero action film . . . and the humble comic book that inspired it. Part One of the story takes place in 1947. A troubled soldier, returning from the war, meets his talented 5-year-old nephew, leaves an indelible impression, and then disappears for 23 years. Cut to 1970. The nephew, now drawing underground comic books in Oakland, California, reconnects with his uncle and, remembering the comic book he saw when he was 5, draws a new version with his uncle as a World War II fighting hero. Cut to the present day. A commercially successful director discovers the 1970 comic book and decides to turn it into a contemporary superhero movie. We meet the film’s extremely difficult male star, his wonderful leading lady, the eccentric writer/director, the producer, the gofer production assistant, and everyone else on both sides of the camera. As a bonus, interspersed throughout the novel are the three comic books all created by Hanks himself.

The Postcard, by Anne Berest

Luminous and gripping to the very last page, The Postcard is an enthralling investigation into family secrets, a poignant tale of mothers and daughters, and a vivid portrait of 20th century Parisian intellectual and artistic life. In 2003, an anonymous postcard is delivered to the Berest family home. On the front is a photo of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. On the back are the names of Anne Berest’s maternal great-grandparents, Ephraïm and Emma Rabinovitch, and their children, Noémie and Jacques — all killed at Auschwitz. Fifteen years after the postcard is delivered, Anne, the heroine in this autofiction, is moved to discover who sent it and why. Aided by her chain-smoking mother, family members, friends, associates, a private detective, a graphologist and many others, she embarks on a journey to discover the fate of the Rabinovitch family and then the identity of the person who sent the postcard. What emerges is a moving story of a family devastated by the Holocaust and partly restored through the power of storytelling that shatters long-held certainties about Anne’s family, her country, and herself.


His Majesty’s Airship: The Life and Tragic Death of the World’s Largest Flying Machine, by S.C. Gwynne

The tragic story of the British airship R101 — which went down in a spectacular hydrogen-fueled fireball in 1930, killing more people than died in the Hindenburg disaster seven years later — has been largely forgotten. Gwynne resurrects it in vivid detail, telling the epic story of great ambition gone terribly wrong. Airships, those airborne leviathans that occupied center stage in the world in the first half of the 20th century, were a symbol of the future. R101 was not just the largest aircraft ever to have flown and the product of the world’s most advanced engineering — it was also the lynchpin of an imperial British scheme to link by air the far-flung areas of its empire from Australia to India, South Africa, Canada, Egypt and Singapore. There was just one problem: Beyond the hype and technological wonders, these big, steel-framed, hydrogen-filled airships were a dangerously bad idea.




The Astronaut’s Guide to Leaving Planet Earth, by Terry Virts

At some point, every kid wants to be an astronaut, and with this guide, they’ll get their zero gravity feet on the right path. With a handy space info guide, space travel history timeline, pick-your-path career planning tips, and fun “ask an astronaut” Q&A, this fabulous guide is perfect for budding astronauts and curious young scientists. Autographed copies are available at The Country Bookshop. (Ages 8-14.)

The Seasons Within Me, by Bianca Pozzi

Sometimes the day is gray outside, but other times its gray inside you. Almost always the best way out of a gray day is to find a good friend who will sit with you until the rainbows shine through. This important book emphasizes that, while things aren’t always perfect, there’s always hope when supportive friends are nearby. (Ages 3-8.)

The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination, by Brad Montague

The Department of Dreams, the Cave of Untold Stories, the Planetarium of Possibility. These are all divisions of the FBI. That’s right, the Fantastic Bureau of Imagination. Whoosh down the whoosh-scilator and dive into possibility, fun and imagination. (Ages 4-8.)

Woo Hoo! You’re Doing Great!, by Sandra Boynton

Sometimes it just takes a little enthusiasm to change the world. Celebrate positivity, grand achievements, special days (and silliness) with this fun new gem that’s the perfect graduation gift alternative to Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (Ages 5-adult.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.