Our staff members enjoy a wide variety of books, and here are their favorites from 2020 — as featured on episode 16 of the Curtis Casts podcast. This is the complete list of books and authors mentioned on the podcast, plus a few more staff favorites that were not on the podcast. Click on title to check availability and request for curbside pick up!  Many of these are available in the Curtis collection and also on CloudLibrary.

Jamie, Adult Services Assistant

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Eavesdropping on the therapy sessions her husband conducts for clients in a downstairs office, a lonely young bride finds her life and marriage turned upside down when her husband goes missing after welcoming a sophisticated new patient.  Psychological suspense.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Discovering a mysterious book of prisoner tales, a Vermont graduate student recognizes a story from his own life before following clues to a magical underground library that is being targeted for destruction. Fantasy fiction, whimsical and atmospheric. 

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Queen’s Thief novel #6

A conclusion to the best-selling series finds high king Eugenides preparing to defend the Lesser Peninsula from an invasion by the ruthless Mede empire, an effort that is complicated by a prophecy that foretells a king’s death. Fantasy fiction, suspenseful.

Andrea, Lending Services

Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther by Craig Pittman

The award-winning journalist traces the story of the unlikely rescue of the Florida panther from extinction while revealing the political factors and colorful personalities that are impacting the species today. Nonfiction nature writing.

Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch

Tells the true crime story of a murder on an Indian reservation, and the unforgettable Arikara woman who becomes obsessed with solving it. Nonfiction, fast-paced.

The Detective in the Dooryard: Reflections of a Maine Cop by Timothy Cotton

Tim Cotton has been a police officer for more than thirty years.  The writer in him has always been drawn to the stories of the people he has met along the way.  His recollections are about the people, places and things of Maine.

 Carol, Manager of Materials Management

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

Shattered by revelations about the recently deceased mother who never entirely accepted her sexuality, a gay woman tracks down the men in her mother’s hidden second life while coming to terms with new understandings about monogamy. Character driven fiction, multiple perspectives.

Well-behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

Three generations of women from the same Indian-American family struggle with disparate ambitions and beliefs about sacrifice that are brought into question by a non-traditional relationship, a colleague’s life-changing offer and a personal secret. Engaging, culturally diverse.

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf

A commemorative 50th anniversary graphic-novel account of the May 4, 1970 shootings of Vietnam War college student protesters by the Ohio National Guard draws on in-depth interviews to profile the tragedy’s four victims.  Sobering and well-researched.

Volunteer Coordinator CeCe

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende, translated by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson

Sponsored by the poet Pablo Neruda to flee the violence of the Spanish Civil War, a pregnant widow and an army doctor unite in an arranged marriage, only to be swept up by the early days of World War II. Dramatic historical fiction.

Code Name Madeleine: A Sufi Spy in Nazi Occupied Paris by Arthur J Magida

The dramatic story of Noor Inayat Khan, secret agent for the British in occupied France. Nonfiction. Disturbing and suspenseful.

The Heart: Frida Kahlo in Paris by Marc Petijean, Translated by Adriana Hunter

This intimate account offers a new, unexpected understanding of the artist’s work and of the vibrant Surrealist art scene in the 1930s. In 1939, devastated after the revelation that her husband had had an affair with her sister, Frida Kahlo left her home in Mexico and headed for Paris to rebuild her life and rediscover her art. Now, for the first time, this missing part of Kahlo’s story is brought to light in exquisite detail. Richly detailed biography.

Adult Services Librarian Hazel

Art of Protest: A Visual History of Dissent and Resistance by Jo Rippon

A bold collection of some of the world’s most iconic and essential protest posters which profile the world’s political landscape through the last hundred years, fully annotated with historical background, published in collaboration with Amnesty International, and with an introduction by ground-breaking artists and activist Anish Kapoor.

Yarn from Wild Nettles: A Practical Guide by Birte Ford (2017)

Birte Ford began experimenting with nettles in the 1990s when she moved to Scotland. In her quest to find the simplest way to get spinnable fibres from nettles, she has experimented with dew and water retting, the two traditional methods for retting flax and hemp. While both these methods work well for nettles, Birte found a simpler method for a cold northern European climate, which she termed root retting. This book is about her work with wild nettles and her results.

Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein by Joe Yonan

A modern and fresh look at the diverse world of beans and pulses, including 125 recipes for globally inspired vegetarian mains, snacks, soups, and even desserts.

Teen Librarian Melissa

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds, adapted from Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning. Compelling and thought-provoking.

Flamer by Mike Curato

In the summer between middle school and high school, Aiden Navarro navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and finds himself drawn to Elias, a boy he can’t stop thinking about. Graphic novel.

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland, sequel to Dread Nation

After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother. But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America. Zombie apocalypse, strong female characters.

Jenn, Lending Services

They Did Bad Things by Lauren Forry

Twenty years after college, five friends are trapped inside a crumbling, secluded mansion on the Scottish isle of Doon; and must fight each other—and the unknown mastermind behind their gathering—as they confront the role they played in their former housemate’s death. Psychological suspense, multiple perspectives.

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

The iconic wedding dress of Grace Kelly inspires three generations of women to forge their own paths, including a Parisian atelier who is hired to sew a look-alike gown before confronting an impossible choice. Engaging family saga.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Barnes

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why — or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch — and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive. Fast-paced and suspenseful.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Searching for the father she has never met in an alternate-world 1983 London, Susan is drawn into an extended family of magical, left-handed, fighting booksellers who police intruders from the mythical Old World of England. World-building fantasy fiction.

Apple-Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey, Cider Shop mystery #1 (2019)

Blossom Valley, West Virginia, is home to Smythe Orchards, Winnie and her Granny’s beloved twenty-five-acre farm and family business. But any way you slice it, it’s struggling. That’s why they’re trying to drum up business with the “First Annual Christmas at the Orchard,” a good old-fashioned holiday festival with enough delicious draw to satisfy apple-picking locals and cider-loving tourists alike—until the whole endeavor takes a sour turn when the body of Nadine Cooper, Granny’s long-time, grudge-holding nemesis, is found lodged in the apple press. Now, with Granny the number one suspect, Winnie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence before the real killer delivers another murder . . .Cozy mystery.

Adult Services Manager Sarah

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs, Mercy Thompson novel #12

Centuries after the banishment of the fae allows magical creatures to run wild, a violent escaped shape-shifter is pursued by a were-coyote and her pack of protective half-humans. Richly detailed urban fantasy.

Golden in Death by J D Robb, Eve Dallas series #50

Homicide detective Eve Dallas investigates the springtime murder of a beloved pediatrician by an unknown killer who hid a deadly toxin inside of a small golden egg. Police procedural.

The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

The follow-up to the internationally bestselling sensation The Lost Words, The Lost Spells is a beautiful collection of poems and illustrations that evokes the wonder of everyday nature, conjuring up red foxes, birch trees, jackdaws, and more in words and images that flow between the pages and into readers’ minds. Robert Macfarlane’s spell-poems and Jackie Morris’s watercolour illustrations are musical and magical: these are summoning spells, words of recollection, charms of protection. Poetry – hopeful and descriptive.

Library Director Liz

Another Time, Another Place by Jodi Taylor (avail 2021) Chronicles of St. Mary’s series #12 This title will be available in 2021.  In the meantime, check out the first in the series:

Just One Damned Thing After Another (2016), Chronicles of St. Mary’s series #1

Behind the seemingly innocuous facade of St Mary’s, a different kind of historical research is taking place. Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document– to try and find the answers to many of History’s unanswered questions–and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back–to the death. And, as they soon discover – it’s not just History they’re fighting. Time travel. offbeat and quirky.

Circe by Madeline Miller (2018)

Follows the banished witch daughter of Titans as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.  Mythological fiction.

A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris, Gunnie Rose novel #2

A sequel to An Easy Death finds Lizbeth Rose going undercover with an old friend when a transport job involving a stolen crate threatens an alternate-world Dixie with a violent rebellion. Weird Western, world-building.

Janet, Lending Services

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith, Cormoran Strike mystery #5

Written pseudonymously by the acclaimed author of the Harry Potter novels, a latest entry in the best-selling series that began with The Cuckoo’s Calling continues the high-stakes adventures of Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott. Menacing and complex.

All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny, Inspector Armand Gamache series #16

The 16th novel by #1 bestselling author Louise Penny finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec investigating a sinister plot in the City of Light. Character-driven police procedural.

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything by B J Fogg

An expert of habit formation and behavior science describes how to harness the power of transformation, whether it be to lose weight, exercise more or de-stress, through making tiny changes that we can feel good about. Inspiring.

Wynter, Manger of Technology and Training

Ruthie Fear by Maxim Loskutoff

In this haunting parable of the American West, a young woman faces the violent past of her remote Montana valley. Strong sense of place, magical realism.

Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? by Michael J Sandel

The world-famous philosopher reveals the driving force behind the resurgence of populism, which is the tyranny of the meritocracy and the resentments it produces, as well as the broader moral dimensions of our current crisis. Thought-provoking and well-researched.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Finding unexpected support from a new friend while collecting stories from her rapidly vanishing Brooklyn community, Sydney uncovers sinister truths about a regional gentrification project and why her neighbors are moving away. Issue-oriented, suspenseful.

Adult Services Librarian Pamela

The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde

In England, 2022, there are 1.2 million human-size rabbits living in the UK. They can walk, talk, drive cars, and they like to read Voltaire, the result of an Inexplicable Anthropomorphizing Event fifty-five years before. No sooner have a family of rabbits arrived than the villagers decide they must depart, citing their propensity to burrow and breed, and their shameless levels of veganism. But Mrs Constance Rabbit is made of sterner stuff, and she and her family decide they are to stay. Unusually, their neighbors– longtime resident Peter Knox and his daughter, Pippa, decide to stand with them and soon discover that you can be a friend to rabbits or humans, but not both. Humorous, social satire.

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

The story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders. Intricately plotted.

The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again by Robert D. Putnam with Shaylyn Romney Garrett

An eminent political scientist’s synthesis of social and political trends over the past century that shows how we have gone from an individualistic society to a more communitarian society and then back again — and how we can use that experience to overcome once again the individualism that currently weakens our country. Well-researched.

Charlotte, Lending Services

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Los Angeles, 1992. Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It is the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them? Culturally diverse and thought provoking.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers–including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages, and a plucky octogenarian–discover their unexpected common traits. Amusing, relationship fiction.

The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin

Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick, she wonders if she’ll make it as a reporter and whether she made a mistake in breaking up with her boyfriend, Matthew. As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it—you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, but they can’t seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head. Intricately plotted.

Youth Services Librarian Diana

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T J Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days. But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Heartwarming and hopeful.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

In a retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. Cozy British mystery.

Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Love, Loss and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller

The cofounder of NPR’s Invisibilia tells the story of a scientist who started over after losing his life’s work in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and discusses whether he is a role model or a cautionary tale. Compelling.

Cheer, Tech Services

The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan

Who is Gretchen Oyster? The discovery of a series of mysterious handmade postcards distracts Hartley from trouble at home. A poignant novel for fans of Rebecca Stead and Holly Goldberg Sloan. Hartley Staples, near-graduate of middle school, is grappling with the fact that his older brother has run away from home, when he finds a handmade postcard that fascinates him. And soon he spots another. Despite his losing interest in pretty much everything since Jackson ran away, Hartley finds himself searching for cards in his small town at every opportunity, ignoring other responsibilities, namely choosing a topic for his final project. Who is G.O. and why are they scattering cards about the town? Realistic, character-driven fiction.

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

After Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she reinvents herself to seek revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. World-building adventure.

Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar

In 1938, eleven-year-old Esther joins her father in tropical, multicultural Cuba, where they toil together to rescue the rest of their Jewish family from persecution in Poland. Includes notes about the author’s grandmother, on whom the story is based. Immigrant experience.

If you need more recommendations, call us at 725-5242 or email refdesk@curtislibrary.com.  We are always happy to help!