Books Recommended by Library Staff

Library Staff Share Their Top Picks

Librarians, are by profession, well read. Often offering advice on what to read next based upon a customer’s personal preferences. But, what do Memphis Public Library & Information Center staff (librarians and other library professionals) consider their personal favorites…

One of my favorite books is:

LITTLE WOMEN
By LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
One of my favorite books is Little Women. I find myself relating to a different character each time I reread it because I am in a different stage of my life. This book is one of the reasons my daughters are named Amy and Beth because I wasn't quite comfortable naming a child Josephine after my favorite character.
Recommended by: Linda Dinwiddie, Material ServicesOne of my Favorite Books is…
LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE
By NANCY MITFORD
A 20th century Jane Austen.
Recommended by: Pamela McFarland, Marketing
CRANFORD
By ELIZABETH GASKELL
Nineteenth century small-town life. Really sweet and lovely, but not one bit hokey.
Recommended by: Pamela McFarland, Marketing
I CAPTURE THE CASTLE
By DODIE SMITH
England. A story that should be dark and tragic, but is instead warm and funny.
Recommended by: Pamela McFarland, Marketing
TRAVELING MERCIES
By ANNE LAMOTT
One of my Favorite Books is…Religion, recovery, and real life.
And the F word.
If it's for you, you'll know.
Recommended by: Pamela McFarland, Marketing
ACT LIKE A LADY, THINK LIKE A MAN
By STEVE HARVEY
It's letting ladies know how to handle a man before marriage, after and any man you would like to know that you are for real. How men think and its not the way we think.
Recommended by: Emma Woodard, Circulation
THE EXORCIST
By WILLIAM PETER BLATTY
The battle between good and evil. Demon possession. I like suspense and this book definitely had it.
Recommended by: Ann Marie, Circulation
THE PRODIGAL HUSBAND
By JACQUELIN THOMAS
This book is a test of true love.
Recommended by: Lisa Hightower, Circulation
FIRST LADY
By CARL WEBER
The first lady at the church dies and tries to pick her replacement from the grave with her friends' help. A page turner!
Recommended by: Lisa Hightower, Circulation
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
By MARY ANN SHAFFER
Through letters from an English author to the townspeople of Guernsey, we learn of their hardships during the German occupation. You grow to love them and hate for the last letter to come. I like the vivid small acts of heroism and how the people cared for one another. Affirms the power of books to nourish people during hard times.
Recommended by: Jeri McBryde, Circulation
THE ROAD
By CORMAC MCCARTHY
Told in sparse, crisp and dark prose. In a post-nuclear world of gray skies and ash, we follow an unnamed man and his young son on the road to survival. They show a love as great as the grief they share as they hide from the bad guys, look for the good guys while scavenging for food and shelter.
I feel McCarty is a modern time prophet. I saw what the future would be, when the batteries run out and nuclear war brings a slow death to the earth as we know it.
Recommended by: Jeri McBryde, Circulation
STANDING IN THE RAINBOW
By FANNIE FLAGG
Like a trip in time back to when life was simple, and everybody knew their neighbors. This is a book that you don't want to end because the characters seem to come to life and you feel like you could really tune your radio to Neighbor Dorothy's program. The good news is that there's a sequel, Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, where you can visit not only Elmwood Springs, Missouri again, but yes, heaven too.
Recommended by: Becky, Circulation
YEAR OF WONDERS: A NOVEL OF THE PLAGUE
By GERALDINE BROOKS
Anna Frith survives the plague in her isolated English village in the year of 1666. With death and destruction all around her she not only survives the horrors, but eventually finds it has also become a year of wonders.
Recommended by: Becky, Circulation
THE HORSE'S MOUTH
By JOYCE CARY
My favorite book about a drunken, broke, but visionary artist inspired by William Blake in post-war London. The protagonist, Jully Gimson, is not a likeable fellow, but you can't beat the descriptions of how an artist sees the world. I wanted to name my first-born after him, but my English husband thought "Gully" sounded too southern!
Recommended by: Lisa Lumb, LINC/211
BEYOND THE OCCULT
By COLIN WILSON
My favorite non-fiction book that explores every inch of parapsychology with a critical eye; he started out a non-believer in things unseen and is now a believer; I named my first-born after him. He writes exquisitely bad fiction, but I love all his non-fiction books.
Recommended by: Lisa Lumb, LINC/211
REBECCA
By DAPHNE DUMAURIER
The book is about a young woman who falls in love with a mysterious gentleman and marries him. Afterward learning his dark secret. Is their love strong enough to survive? It kept me hooked until the very end. Very well written.
Recommended by: Sally Bunday, Circulation
WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS
By WILSON RAWLS
About a boy, his dogs, and the lessons he learns along the way. It is also about life and loss and the meaning of true friendship. After reading it you will feel as if nothing is impossible and anything can be achieved if you just work hard enough. It will make you laugh and cry every time you read it.
Recommended by: Sally Bunday, Circulation
POISON STUDY
By MARIA V. SNYDER
A girl, Yolena, one day from execution is saved by a choice, die tomorrow or become the ruler's food taster. Yolena agrees. Just to make sure she does not try to escape she is fed a poison which requires a daily antidote. If that was not enough she must also suppress the magic growing within her, which is outlawed in her land. All around her tensions grow to the unforgettable climax. This book kept me at the edge of my seat until the very end.
Recommended by: Sally Bunday, Circulation
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF
By RICK RIORDAN
After learning that he is the son of a mortal woman and Poseidon, god of the sea, twelve-year-old Percy is sent to a summer camp for demigods like himself, and joins his new friends on a quest to prevent a war between the gods. Keeps you reading from cover to cover.
Recommended by: Sally Bunday, Circulation
THE LITTLE BOOK OF COACHING: MOTIVATING PEOPLE TO BE WINNERS
By KENNETH BLANCHARD This book of coaching is a great motivator for people in business and outside of business. Its advice is useful in real life as well.
Recommended by: Christina, Business/Sciences
THE SHACK
By WILLIAM P. YOUNG
Very uplifting, heart touching! It closed the gap on my personal relationship with God.
Recommended by: Sandra Boone, Circulation
GIRLFRIENDS
By ANITA R. BUNKLEY
3 different stories about 3 girlfriends. Rebuilding their lives and their love lives. Tells what true friendship really is. 5 stars from me!
Recommended by: Sandra Boone, Circulation
UP TO NO GOOD
By CARL WEBER
There is always a man around the corner, and church trustee James Black should know he's usually that man carrying on affairs with married women and sleeping with one conquest after another. He has charm and good looks, and he knows how to use them until the tables are turned and the he suddenly falls in love with the woman of his dreams. But his new found love quickly generates a ripple effect of shocking proportions. It is a page turner you will not want to put down and it has a surprising ending!
Recommended by: Tandra Lynch, Circulation
FIRST LADY
By CARL WEBER
Charlene Wilson, first lady of First Jamaica Ministries, has lived a good life with two wonderful children and her beloved husband, T.K. Wilson. Now the Lord is calling her home at the age of 44. She's ready to go but what will happen to T.K. after she's gone? T.K. is just like any other man when it comes to women, especially bible-toting, man-hungry church women. That's why Charlene has planned a way to hang around in spirit to make sure her replacement is a good one…Does it have you curious? Check out the book-You won't be disappointed.
Recommended by: Tandra Lynch, Circulation
GOD DON'T LIKE UGLY
By MARY MONROE
Shy, overweight Annette Goode is only 7 years old when Mr. Boatwright, a boarder in her house, begins sexually abusing her and no one believes her, not even her mom. She keeps this information to herself for years until gorgeous, self-assured Rhonda Nelson becomes her new friend. Annette confides in Rhonda and finds the strength and courage to survive to adulthood. But Rhonda has skeletons in her closet that could doom them both. Surprising twist at the end! Check out the other two books in the series-all are page turners.
Recommended by: Tandra Lynch, Circulation
SISTER BETTY! GOD'S CALLING YOU AGAIN!
By PAT G'ORGE-WALKER
Sister Betty always wore a big cross around tiny neck, carried a much-too-big bible and constantly smiled for no apparent reason. Sometimes while laying her hands on your head and praying her false teeth would fall forward. Before they hit the floor she would snatch up the teeth by their metal hook and put them in her pocket and keep right on smiling, showing her pink, rubbery gums. If you want a good laugh, check out the books by this author. Tears will flow down your face from laughing.
Recommended by: Tandra Lynch, Circulation
CARELESS IN RED
By ELIZABETH GEORGE
Another Inspector Lynley mystery by a master of psychological British mysteries. Mystery lovers HAVE to read all of them!
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
THE SENATOR'S WIFE
By SUE MILLER
A young wife learns about marriage, life, death - and Washington - from her new neighbor.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
THE BIRTH OF VENUS
By SARAH DUNANT
Enthralling story of Florence in the 1500s!
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE: MAISIE DOBBS
By JACQUELINE WINSPEAR
If you haven't read a Maisie Dobbs mystery, you just aren't a REAL mystery lover! Maisie is a WWI nurse turned investigator. In this book, she deals with gypsies in a small Kent village.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
THE ROAD
By CORMAC MCCARTHY
A man and his son wander through post-apocalyptic America. An astonishing book! It won almost every possible prize for fiction and the movie adaptation is due out this year.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
By JONATHAN S. FOER
A young boy deals with the death of his father in WTC 9/11 by searching for details about his father's life.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
HALLAM'S WAR
By ELIZABETH PAYNE ROSEN
The Civil War in our own backyard - seen from the eyes of a West Tennessee family. The author provides fodder for soul-searching as she reveals how "good" people justified slavery.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
THE END OF CALIFORNIA
By STEVE YARBROUGH
Another small town Mississippi murder mystery from one of my favorite Southern authors.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
THE PRIVATE PATIENT
By P.D. JAMES
This mystery has everything - old house in English countryside full of people who all have a motive for murder. It will keep you guessing and keep you reading! (Check out the many older books by P.D. James too!)
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
IN THE WOODS
By TANA FRENCH
Edgar Award winning mystery set in Ireland. A complicated modern murder has overtones of a 1980s child abduction.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
COAL BLACK HORSE
By ROBERT OLMSTEAD
A 14-year-old boy is sent to find his father during the height of the Civil War. Descriptions of the war-time South are compelling and heartbreaking.
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
THE PESTHOUSE
By JIM CRACE
Imagine a future with no machines and rampant lawlessness! This is a future of America that people are desperate to leave!
Recommended by: Kay, Administration
THREE CUPS OF TEA: ONE MAN'S MISSION TO FIGHT TERROR AND BUILD NATIONS--ONE SCHOOL AT A TIME
By GREG MORTENSEN
This story of commitment and courage connects one man with the peasants of the remote mountainous areas of Pakistan. It provides a face for another point of view.
Recommended by: Ruth Morrison, Business/Sciences
THE WILD TREES: A STORY OF PASSION AND DARING
By RICHARD PRESTON
An incredible book about the giant trees of the world and those who explore them. The descriptions of life in the forest canopies will leave you dreaming of climbing a tall one and you'll never look at trees quite the same way again!
Recommended by: Sarah, Business/Sciences
YOU GOT NOTHING COMING: NOTES FROM A PRISON FISH
By JIMMY LERNER
You wouldn't think that a man in prison for killing someone could write a good book, but guess what? Jimmy Lerner can. This is his memoir of his first year in prison and it is a remarkable account-at times funny, at times heartbreaking, but always honest and incredibly enlightening.
Recommended by: Sarah, Business/Sciences
TRUE NOTEBOOKS: A WRITER'S YEAR AT JUVENILE HALL
By MARK SALZMAN
This is a very eye-opening account of Salzman's experiences while teaching writing to kids at one of L.A. County's detention facilities. Pretty amazing things can happen when you give kids the chance to express themselves. (And if you've never read any of Salzman's fiction, check it out! He's one of my favorite fiction writers.)
Recommended by: Sarah, Business/Sciences
MILA 18
By LEON URIS
This is one of those epic novels that will stay with you forever… The book gives a fictionalized account of Warsaw during WWII and culminates with the Jewish uprising in the Nazi-mandated ghetto. Uris is a master at crafting characters and artfully intertwining them while remaining true to historical record.
Recommended by: Sarah, Business/Sciences
ELLA MINNOW PEA
By MARK DUNN
A small sovereign nation off of the coast of the United States is built around the legacy of one Nevin Nollop, the author of the shortest English sentence to contain all 26 letters-"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." But, as the letters begin to fall off of the statue erected in Nollop's honor, they begin to fall out of use as well. A very clever social commentary is the fantastic result!
Recommended by: Sarah, Business/Sciences
THE ALIENIST
By CALEB CARR
A great mystery set in turn-of-the-century New York. This novel tells of the hunt for a serial killer and of the development of modern investigative techniques-profiling, forensic science, etc. You will not be able to put it down!
Recommended by: Sarah, Business/Sciences
THE LADIES AUXILIARY
By TOVA MIRVIS
Set in Memphis, this wonderful book tells the story of Batsheva, a new arrival within the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community. Her presence forces people to confront and question long-held beliefs and customs and analyze the nature of their own religiosity. Although set in a specific community, the themes are universal. Highly recommended!
Recommended by: Sarah, Business/Sciences
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
By ALEXANDRE DUMAS
This is an action novel, set in France, Italy, and several Mediterranean islands during the historical events of 1815-1838. With a focus on themes such as vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Recommended by: Laura Cunningham, History
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING
By MILAN KUNDERA
Set in 1968 Prague, the novel explores ideas such as the significance of human action and the importance of human lives.
Recommended by: Laura Cunningham, History
THE DISINHERITED: A NOVEL OF THE 1930S
By JACK CONROY
This is a wonderful survival story set during the Great Depression. Readers will be able to see remarkable parallels to present-day society.
Recommended by: Laura Cunningham, History
PAUL R. COPPOCK'S MIDSOUTH
Edited By HELEN M. COPPOCK AND CHARLES W. CRAWFORD
From 1971 until his death, Paul Coppock wrote a history column, "Mid South Memoirs," about interesting peoples, local history, and Mid South places.
Recommended by: Marilyn Umfress, History
CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN
By FRANK B. GILBRETH, JR. AND ERNESTINE GILBREATH CAREY
A dozen children plus parents who are efficiency experts adds up to hilarious stories about childhood and the guests of their famous parents.
Recommended by: Marilyn Umfress, History
THE HOLY BIBLE
King James Version
The Bible is the best guide for living. It is filled with interesting stories and events that speak to the heart.
Recommended by: Beverly Jackson, Marketing
THE AUDACITY OF HOPE
By BARACK OBAMA
This book was written when now President Obama was a senator of Illinois. He talked about his vision for a new kind of politics that pulls Americans together. Basically, Senator Obama wants to give the American people hope. The book is filled with humor about his experiences on the campaign trail, family, daughters Sasha and Malia, and wife Michelle. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.
Recommended by: Beverly Jackson, Marketing
WUTHERING HEIGHTS
By EMILY BRONTE
I love this book because it is an amazing love story and the characters are so intriguing. It is also written beautifully.
Recommended by: Mary Lee Bales, Marketing
OF MICE AND MEN
By JOHN STEINBECK
The ultimate story of friendship and making decisions that can completely alter your world.
Recommended by: Mary Lee Bales, Marketing
COLD MOUNTAIN
By CHARLES FRAZIER
A true southern tale centered on the heartache that the Civil War caused and how love can truly keep you alive.
Recommended by: Mary Lee Bales, Marketing
A LESSON BEFORE DYING
By ERNEST GAINES
This is an inspiring saga of two men separated by a harsh circumstance and also connected to one another by that same circumstance.
Recommended by: Mary Lee Bales, Marketing
HAVING OUR SAY: THE DELANY SISTERS' FIRST 100 YEARS
By SARAH & A. ELIZABETH DELANY WITH AMY HILL HEARTH
A memoir that is both humorous and serious about being black in America that spans several decades. The insight from sisters, 101 and 103, was delightful and informative.
Recommended by: Verjeana, History
PROMISES IN DEATH
By J.D. ROBB
The latest book in a series that features a New York female detective from 2060 that is "hard as nails" with a soft heart who always solves her cases with the help of her rich, handsome husband. This book is a must read even if you hate mysteries.
Recommended by: Verjeana, History
THE DEFINING MOMENT: FDR'S HUNDRED DAYS AND THE TRIUMPH OF HOPE
By JONATHAN ALTER
Examines the banking crisis of 1933 and the New Deal-government regulations instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt that saved America's banking system and transformed the nation's economy.
Recommended by: Wayne, History
IMZADI
By PETER DAVID
An elegantly written novel that uses the Star Trek universe to explore the true nature of love.
Recommended by: Wayne, History
MIDDLESEX
By JEFFREY EUGENIDES
A woman in my book club described this book perfectly-it is a privilege to read. Eugenides description of Callie's confusion about life is heartbreaking and beautiful. "Emotions, in my experience aren't covered by single words… I'd like to have a word for 'the sadness inspired by failing restaurants' as well as for 'the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.' I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever."
Recommended by: Gina, History
SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW
By PETER HOEG
The death of a child could be purely accidental, but Smilla suspects otherwise. Fueled by her knowledge of both the behavior of snow crystals and the behavior of the odd child from her apartment building, she seeks justice but finds much more. This is one of the few books that I began to read again the moment I'd finished.
Recommended by: Mary Seratt, Youth Services
THE ART OF HAPPINESS
By HIS HOLINESS, THE DALAI LAMA
In good economic times and bad, most Westerners seek happiness outside themselves, and feel that it is just beyond reach-on the next vacation or with the next purchase. This accessible, sensible book written by the head of the Tibetan Government in Exile offers a different, workable way to look at happiness.
Recommended by: Mary Seratt, Youth Services
AWAKENING COMPASSION
By PEMA CHODRON
We are so quick to imagine that we understand the motives of other people and quick to act based on our perceptions. Maybe there is a different way to react to people that is better for all of us. Pema Chodron is a skillful teacher and lecturer. She writes clearly using examples from her own journey to light our path.
Recommended by: Mary Seratt, Youth Services
BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON
By DOROTHY L. SAYERS
Mystery: A romantic LOVE story as well.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
GAUDY NIGHT
By DOROTHY L. SAYERS
Mystery: Precedes and leads up to Busman's Honeymoon.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
By HARPER LEE
Novel: Never grows old and a good repeat read.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
By EMMUSKA ORCZY
Novel: Good LOVE story for a romantic with a lot of adventure.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
CYRANO DE BERGERAC
By EDMOND ROSTAND
Play: Of word play, adventure & love. Good read for a romantic.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
RIDDLE-MASTER (TRILOGY)
By PATRICIA A. MCKILLIP
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Best written trilogy I know.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
By RAY BRADBURY
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: This one still and always is a good repeat read.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
FINE ART OF THE TIN CAN
By BOBBY HASSON
Art: inspirational, imaginative and helpful.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
MODERN APPROACH TO BASKETRY…
By DONA Z. MEILACH
Baskets: coiling techniques, helpful pictures.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
200 CROCHET BLOCKS
By JAN EATON
Crochet: so many pattern choices to learn & explore.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
50 SENSATIONAL CROCHET AFGHANS…
By BOBBIE MATELA
Crochet: best collection of full size patterns I have seen & I want to create at least half of them.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
FELTMAKING
By BEVERLY GORDON
Felt: First book that I ever found on this subject and it's still my favorite.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
BONSAI MASTERCLASS
By PETER CHAN
Gardening: How to take plants from their natural setting. Just a beautiful read for the non-gardener.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
FOUR SEASONS OF BONSAI
By KYUZO MURATA
Gardening: Another beautiful read.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
500 BEADED OBJECTS
By TERRY KRAUTWURST
Beadwork: Fantastic to see all the imagination and creativity there is in the world.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
1,000 JEWELRY INSPIRATIONS
By SANDRA SALAMONY
Jewelry: A good look at what a good imagination can create in current fashion accessories.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
MACRAME CREATIVE DESIGN IN KNOTTING
By DONA Z. MEILACH
Macrame: Knots are fun.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
THE BIBLE
By GOD THROUGH HIS PEOPLE
Truth: Best book in the world and it's for everyone.
Recommended by: Donna, Cataloging
THE HOLY BIBLE
It's the book of life. The beginning and the end. If you have any questions about what is going on in your life, read the Bible and you will find your answer.
Recommended by: Linda, Circulation
THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
By JOHN PIPER
It tells us 50 reasons why Jesus came to die for us.
Recommended by: Linda, Circulation
FASTING
By FRANKLIN JENTEZEN
This book gives you the three ways to fast. Fasting is what prepares you for a new anointing. Fasting is like spring cleaning for your body. It keeps you sensitive to His spirit enabling you to live holy.
Recommended by: Linda, Circulation
ANSWERED PRAYER
By FREDERICK K.C. PRICE
The power of praying with faith.
Recommended by: Linda, Circulation

 

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