Staff Picks 2019, Part 2

Is the anticipation keeping you up at night? Are you anxious for more reading suggestions? Are you loving new reads or wondering, “what were they thinking?” Well, wait no further! Below is the second installment of Topsham Public Library’s Staff Picks of 2019.

I will kick things off this week:

2019 was a bit different for me as I read more nonfiction than I usually do. I tend to space the nonfiction sparingly throughout the year, but I found myself picking up one as I was finishing another and my Top Picks reflects this abnormality in my reading habits as half of them are nonfiction books.

I first heard about Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson when I saw the movie trailer for this book. Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he moved to Alabama to defend prisoners on death row. Though the book is primarily about one case regarding the wrongful conviction of an innocent man, it also tells the story about his founding of Equal Justice Initiative and highlights some of the atrocities he saw in the criminal justice system.  It is a thoughtful look at how we treat people of all ages who are incarcerated.


Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty is an eye-opening look at what happens to dead bodies from natural processes to what morticians may do. Doughty is a mortician and funeral industry insider trying to help people become more comfortable with the dying process. This book is a collection of questions children have asked or might ask about dead bodies. It’s a quick read, and it’s hilarious, gross, and educational all in one.

Cyndi introduced this book to me and you will notice that is is on her Top of 2019 list as well. In some ways, I don’t know where to begin, but simply speaking American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan is the account of the capture of a serial killer who roamed the United States killing when the notion hit him, and no one was aware he even existed. To say killing was Israel Keyes craft is the best way I know how to say it, and that he was stopped was as accidental as he was purposeful. Callahan includes excerpts from the interrogations, and as a journalist, she knows how to keep the story going. There are aspects of this account that I still think about today.



A collection of seven short stories smuggled out of North Korea makes my list this year. The Accusation by Bandi, though fiction, introduces the reader to the realities of living in North Korea under such an oppressive, intrusive, and evil dictatorship.



When your niece, who is a night library aide at the University of Michigan texts you and says, “read The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen; translated by Hester Velmans,” you do. It’s a hilarious and poignant look into aging that is set in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Though it is a work of fiction, you know it’s true.



Stephen King is an amazing storyteller. I haven’t read everything he has written because, well, I like sleeping at night, but this year I read The Green Mile and I couldn’t put it down. (He wrote it as a serial in six parts: Two Dead Girls, Mouse On the Mile, Coffey’s Hands, Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix, Night Journey, and Coffey On the Mile and the entire collection is titled The Green Mile.) Though some might call it a horror story, and there are definitely horrific aspects to the tale, I found it to be thoughtful and insightful into the workings of the human heart.


Helen continues the fun:


Old Bones by Douglas Preston




The Family Plot by Cherie Priest




The Escape Room by Megan Goldin




The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon




The Pandora Room by Christopher Golden



Cyndi keeps things rolling:

The Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey never stays long on our shelves and I wanted to know why. Pilkey and I go way back to the beginning of the Dragon and Captain Underpants series which captured the attention of my children when they were young. I love the Dog Man series! Pilkey is a great illustrator and has perfected the art of blending important messages in silly humor.



Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern, an adult graphic novel, is a hilariously warped take on the classic Romantic literature.



Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case is a graphic novel depicting the true-life story of the capture of one of America’s notorious serial killers.


American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan is the true story of a serial killer that roamed the United States killing at will, but in a way that allowed him to go undetected for years.



In Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories by Sarah Lerner, students who lived through the school shooting share their experience through poems, letters, journal writings and more.




Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren is a Young Adult novel that looks at gender role expectations through the eyes of a female on the all-male hockey team.



In Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer Echo’s father is captured by a wolf and she must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment or they will all be lost.


Susan will wrap things up this week:


The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern




Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden: The Bear and the Nightingale; The Girl in the Tower; The Winter of the Witch



My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman




The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin




The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield



Tune in next week for the final installment of Topsham Public Library’s Staff Picks 2019!