Friday, December 23, 2011

Staff Picks: The Best Books of 2011

The best books of 2011 as selected by the staff of Carnegie-Stout Public Library, or at least a short list of our favorite reads in fiction, biography, graphic novels, and more!

Amy, Youth Services - Wither by Lauren DeStefano
This book was a neat twist to all the futuristic dystopian society books out there. This book was creepy, romantic, and had an interesting storyline. It's the first in a series.

Michelle, Circulation - Sister by Rosamond Lupton
A mystery surrounding the disappearance of a New York career woman"s (transplanted from England) sister back in England. The story is told from older sister Beatrice's point of view. She is called back to England by her mother because her sister, Tess, has disappeared. Although they are vastly different the sisters have stayed in touch and are very close. Bea narrates the story as if she is talking directly to Tess and also as she tells it to a detective. I found the narration very interesting and did not figure out the surprise ending until nearly finishing the book. Loved the voice and loved the mystery.

Sharon, Youth Services - Life by Keith Richards
I actually listened to this and although it was twenty discs long I had a hard time getting out of my car wanting to know what happened next. Johnny Depp & Joe Hurley do a fabulous job narrating but when Keith himself takes over - well let's just say it's a "hoot"
Keith makes no apologies, sets straight the many rumors surrounding himself and for Rolling Stones fans, like myself, he shares his knowledge and love for his music and his mates.

Andrew, Adult Services - Finder Vol. 1 & 2 and Finder: Voice by Carla Speed McNeil
These impeccably crafted science fiction comics establish a complex futuristic world but focus on compelling character and interpersonal relationships. Speed McNeil has obviously accomplished some deep and fascinating worldbuilding but does a masterful job of revealing only what's necessary for each short story, never bogging the reader down with needless factoids or technobabble.

Michelle, Circulation - Falling Together by Marissa de los Santos
This is more of a love story with a little bit of a mystery thrown in. It revolves aroun
d the friendship of 3 people who meet in college and form an unlikely bond. Something causes them to agree to end their friendship for 6 years until they are drawn back together for the very sake of that friendship. It has some smart dialogue that made laugh out loud a few times. I found the writing very engaging and finished the book with that feeling of having had a satisfying read.

Sarah, Adult Services - Bossypants by Tina Fey
I know this is one of those books that people have been talking about all year, but this is the first time since Kindergarten that I've really loved an audiobook. Ms. Fey was the perfect companion for an otherwise long and otherwise boring drive. Her self-deprecating humor and obvious balance in a way that made the miles fly by.

Allison, Adult Services -5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and Other Useful Guides) by Matthew Inman
Written and illustrated by the creator of the blog "The Oatmeal" this book manages to be both hilarious and informative. Learn the proper way to use a semicolon from a party gorilla, why Nicola Tesla was the most awesome geek who ever lived and eight ways to prepare your pets for war (bunnies are ideal for special ops!) Caution: not suitable for work, children or while eating.

Danielle, Youth Services - The Death Cure by James Dashner
The Maze Runner Trilogy by Dashner is a great YA dystopia series that will keep you on the edge of your seat with action and suspense. I highly recommend the audio book versions as the characters really seem to come alive.

Mike, Adult Services - How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III by Ron Rosenbaum
Contrary to popular belief, the likelihood that we'll all be incinerated in a nuclear holocaust has actually increased since the end of the Cold War -- it's a matter of when, not if. "At least you can't say you haven't been warned," Rosenbaum concludes.

Mirdza, Adult Services - Pilgrimage by Annie Leibovitz
Photographer Annie Leibovitz (of Rolling Stone and Vogue fame) traveled to locations she could explore and document with no other agenda than curiosity. These included Niagara Falls, Old Faithful, and the homes of Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Thoreau and Emerson, Elvis Presley, Freud, and Eleanor Roosevelt, among others. “When I was watching my children stand mesmerized over Niagara Falls, it was an exercise in renewal, it taught me to see again.” Leibovitz provides commentary about the history of these places and Doris Kearns Goodwin writes an introduction.

Michelle, Adult Services - Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning
I'm not sure this is the BEST book I read in 2011, but it certainly was the one I was most anxious to read. I absolutely HAD to know what happens to Jericho Barrons. And what exactly is Barrons? Fae? Druid? Seelie or the Unseelie King? A male sidhe-seer? The sixteen month wait between Dreamfever and Shadowfever seemed like forever. This is only book I ever pre-ordered from Amazon.

Amy, Youth Services - Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
This book was such a breath of fresh air this year. It's quite the story and very funny.


  1. Thanks for the reviews. Interesting selection.
    I'm definitely curious about the Keith Richards book as most of the Rolling Stones started their career while living in my home town.

  2. Thank you! We have both the book and the CD audio of Richards' biography, and if you'd like to put them on hold, please give us a call!