Staff Picks

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maryafrom Marya Johnston (owner)

My reading is very eclectic. I read everything! My favorite book is always the last one I read. (I have come up with a couple for you, though):


Heartland: An eye-opening memoir of working-class poverty in the American Midwest.

by Sarah Smarsh

This is an evocative tale of growing up poor and barely getting by in “flyover country”, the plains of western Kansas and eastern Colorado. Sarah’s vivid descriptions are seared into my mind, of her aunts running a truckstop cafe, her grandparents drinking and dancing after work drained summers on the farm, the women working just as hard or harder than the men. We know these people. A little bit Educated, a little bit Hillbilly Elegy, this book is a testament to the power of education to lift one up beyond one’s circumstances.

Seafire cover

For Teens:

I loved Seafire by Natalie C. Parker! It’s probably one of the most inventive, creative books I’ve read since The Hunger Games.
First in a series. Revenge! Mayhem! Girl Pirates! What’s NOT to like??


For Middle-Grade Readers:

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden is more well known for her adult fantasy books based on folk tales (The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower), but her foray into middle readers was a hit with me. Kids love to be scared, but not frightened, and this book ticks all the boxes for an October read. It’s scary, without being TOO scary.

Ollie is sick of being pitied since her mother died and yet….she keeps getting messages on her watch telling her to “run” and “avoid small spaces”. Could it be her mother trying to protect Ollie from the pumpkin-headed scarecrows on the farm field trip? With that, this deliciously creepy and spine-tingling adventure begins…



by Christina Dalcher

It’s rare that I find a book that’s as timely or as gripping as Vox. Christina Dalcher has created a story that is utterly horrifying, not because it’s packed with monsters or a looming apocalypse, but because the events of the story clearly echo our current political climate. Dalcher takes us deep into an immediate future where women are limited to 100 spoken words a day, regardless of age or occupation. Vox raises important questions that are on the minds of many people, both within the United States and on a global scale. How did the world come to this? Is there a way for women to be silent and remain free? (Nope.) How do we fight against a tyrannical government that insists on silencing us? Dalcher’s story is haunting, terrifying in a way that even Stephen King hasn’t managed. In a heartfelt plea to reject complacency, Christina Dalcher has reminded us why our voice is important, and what can happen when it’s taken from us.
– Holly


Black Out and All Clear

by Connie Willis

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to go back in time and live a particular historical period? Award-winning author Connie Willis takes 3 historians from 2060 by time machine back to WWII England. There are rules for the time travelers to prevent them from altering the past, but the time machine develops glitches and fails to respond. The rules may have to go if the 3 are to survive the bombing of London and Dunkirk. Willis will leave you breathless and with a desire to know more as a club of thieves, illegal traffickers, and obsessionists. This is no longer a gentleman’s sport.
– Constance

Legion by Brandon Sanderson.

A genius cannot hold all of his knowledge in his head, so he imagines many separate experts to help him. Super fun! A thriller that will make you question reality.

– Cameron


Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison.

It is the right time in our collective conversation for this amazing heroine and the themes in this book of self-awareness, belonging, discrimination, exploitation, and loyalty. A resonating story for our time and collective conversation.



The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White. This is a modern story entwined with history and a bit of 1915 mystery (the Lusitania’s sinking) and how it impacted a family, generations later. A fun romance and a mix of voices from the authors who collaborated to make this book a terrific read….or a great gift!

– Victoria