Our Favorite Books of 2019

Last modified: 
Thursday, January 9, 2020
Library staff picks 2019


What books were winners with Library staff members in 2019?  From pop culture potboilers to heavy-hitting history reads, check out the favorites that lined our shelves this past year.

Looking for more reading recommendations? Get customized book ideas from Library experts by taking advantage of our Shelf Help service
 
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FICTION



BROWSE FULL LIST IN OUR CATALOG
Reading levels:  Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) Youth (6-12)  /  Children (0-5)
Sections:  FICTION  NONFICTION  BONUS PICKS


The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt
Andrea Wulf
Adults (18+)

Did you know that during the time Lewis and Clark were crossing North America, there was a European scientist crossing South America? This book makes his much more harrowing journey come alive.

Clare Hollander, Central Youth Services
ClareH_KCMO


Anthem
Deborah Wiles
Teens (13-18) Youth (6-12)

It's 1969, and 14-year-old Molly's older brother Barry has run away after many arguments with his father over the Vietnam War. When his draft notice comes, Molly and her 17-year-old cousin, Norman begin a cross-country road trip in a beat up old school bus in the hopes of finding Barry in San Francisco. Along the way, they meet the Allman Brothers, Elvis Presley, Wavy Gravy, and the Wrecking Crew.

I don't know how it resonates with people born in this millennium, but this 60-year-old found Anthem to be a wonderful book, capturing the politics, music, energy, and spirit of the age. Recommended for 5th grade and up.    

Ron Freeman,  Youth & Family Engagement / Plaza Branch

At the Wolf's Table
Rosella Postorino
Adults (18+)

An interesting read about Hitler's food tasters and what this position did to their lives.

Shelby P., Trails West          


Bear is Awake
Hannah E. Harrison
Children (0-5)

The pictures are so sweet and it's an alphabet book that reads like a story. Very rare and done amazingly well. We don't have it yet, but I know the author and have my own copy.        

Heather Harrison, Plaza Branch

More information >
Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Marlon James    
Adults (18+)

Described by the author as "A Game of Thrones for African History" this story is told through a series of shifting temporal viewpoints which circle around one another until coming back to the present where it all began. Along the way we learn about beauty, tragedy, tribal conflict, and the magic of a world that is passing away.    

Matthew S., Waldo Branch


The Border
Don Winslow
Adults (18+)

Book 3 in Winslow's Power of the Dog series delves into the modern day opioid crisis and how it intersects with the interactions with American and Mexican politics. This book stands alone as a magnificent, gripping look at how we got to where we are, but it's even better if you've also read The Power of the Dog and The Cartel.

Elizabeth C., Collection Development


The Burning White
Brent Weeks
Adults (18+)

It seems like it took a long time for Weeks to conclude his Lightbringer series, but the results are worth it. This final novel is nothing short of epic. The ending was very satisfying to those of us who have followed Gavin, Kip, Karris, and the others from the very beginning. I came to love these characters, and to me, this is the hallmark of a successful series.

Lauren Votava, Sugar Creek


City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert
Adults (18+)

As the author intended, this book sparkles like a glass of champagne. I remained immersed in a world of colorful characters and vivid setting for the duration of the novel.

Andrea G., Central Library - OneNorth Technology Center
AndreaG_KCMO


Darkdawn
Jay Kristoff
Adults (18+)

The concluding volume to the Nevernight Chronicle fulfills all the promises of the series (there will be blood, the hero will die, answers will be given) while also managing to maintain a sense of urgency. At every step, I was surprised, and despite the grim nature of the story, there was great room for delight. If you enjoy stories of gladiatorial Rome and heroines who buck all stereotypes, this would fit the bill for you also.    

Matthew S., Waldo Branch

I had been looking forward to Darkdawn for a couple years now. It is the finale of a great series by prolific author Jay Kristoff. He’s been working on a lot of things, but his characters and world in the Nevernight series had always been my favorite, so I was anticipating great payoff for their arcs. The dark fantasy series is especially dark and especially full of prophecies, so bloodshed and character deaths were on the table from the first page. I also liked the way the love triangle involved two characters that were, honestly, murderers and not great people for the protagonist to settle down with. It paid off in every way imaginable, including some I hadn’t imagined. Additionally, it was the first book I ever put on hold at this library. It was supposed to be released last year, but there were some scheduling issues and the author needed more time to tour for his other books and it ended up being a long wait for a book I was 90% sure was already written and edited just waiting to be released to the public. By the time the book came out, I was a different person and had a JOB at the library I’d placed the hold at.

Isaiah Smith, Waldo Branch


The Fountains of Silence 
Ruta Sepetys
Teens (13-18) 

Excellent audiobook. Loved learning about the history of Spain after WWII through these compelling characters. I was completely unaware of what happened there (for a very long time--and during my lifetime) under Franco's rule. I also enjoyed the author's note at the end of the book in which she shared her process for researching and writing about a history as an outsider to it. Her previous books have been about her own cultures.

Jamie Mayo, Youth & Family Engagement
JamieM_KCMO



Goodnight Stranger
Miciah Bay Gault
Adults (18+)

Dark and mysterious characters. Creepy island lore. Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson. What else do you need?

Heather Harrison, Plaza Branch


Gideon the Ninth
Tamsyn Muir
Adults (18+)

This is a refreshing blending of genres placing high-level science and technology directly alongside a well-envisioned magic system. The sympathetic characters, and exploration of what it means to be a necromancer delivered in a deeply sarcastic, relatable tone made a far future feel incredibly immediate.    

Matthew S., Waldo Branch


The Giver of Stars
Jojo Moyes
Adults (18+)

Based on the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, this fictionalized story features a strong cast of female characters and the bond they create in the rural Appalachian Mountains in the late 1930s. This book showcases the hardships of the time, while also celebrating how books can change lives and minds. If you love history, books, libraries, or strong female characters, you will also love this book!

Nicole Brewer, Central Library Customer Services
NicoleB_KCMO



How It Feels to Float
Helena Fox
Teens (13-18) 

I read this book back in May, and Biz, the main character, is still with me today. It's an amazing book that deals with teenage mental illness and death, and Helena Fox writes it in such a way that matches perfectly to stuff that I dealt with growing up as well.    

Alisha H., Central Library - One North Technology Center
AlishaH_KCMO




The Institute
Stephen King
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

The kids in this novel must learn to stand up for themselves and each other amidst evil and corrupt adults. They also meet good adults who aren't willing to stand aside and let these evil ones continue to take advantage of these extraordinary kids. Real life children are often treated like they have no rights, and many adults try to take advantage of them. We can all take a note from this book and stand for children when they cannot fight for themselves.    

Lauren Votava, Sugar Creek Branch


The Last Romantics
Tara Conklin
Adults (18+) 

This was an interesting story about family love and loss.

Kara Evans, Missouri Valley Special Collections
KaraE_KCMO 


My Lovely Wife
Samantha Downing
Adults (18+) 

This story was a slow burn that exploded in the last 150 pages. The twists were excellent and I couldn't put it down!

Chinesa R., Central Youth Services


The Need
Helen Phillips
Adults (18+) 

The Need thrusts readers right into its story with an exciting and emotionally jarring first chapter. Despite its abruptness, a lot is learned about its main character, Molly, as the story quickly unfolds. You learn about her life as a mother, as a wife, her career as a paleobotanist, and about a growing sense of terror that's lingering in the margins of these roles. Much of Molly's trouble seems to have been triggered by a series of strange objects discovered at a dig site, but readers are kept guessing about the true source of her unease until its gripping conclusion. A classic page turner, don't be surprised if you take this one down in a single sitting.

Michael Wells, Missouri Valley Special Collections
MichaelW_KCMO




The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead
Adults (18+) 

A fictionalized take inspired by a real-life case of a Florida boys’ reform school in the 1960s, Whitehead tells the story of two boys imprisoned within the school while also highlighting life for a generation living under the thumb of segregation and racism. A wrenching tale of young lives stolen, masterfully written by Whitehead… and the ending really breaks your heart. An important read, and another example of fiction used to reveal larger truths about our past and present.  

Andy Dandino, Public Affairs

Nothing To See Here
Kevin Wilson
Adults (18+) 

This book is funny and tragic. Wilson is an intelligent writer that allows readers to not question using their imagination. The characters are believable, broken, and trying.    

Haley Lips, Collection Development


A People's Future of the United States
Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, editors
Adults (18+) 

How might current societal injustices play out in near-future America? This collection of short speculative fiction features stories that center characters who are commonly found at society's margins in the present -- folks of color, folks who are neuro atypical, who are nonbinary in gender, and so on. The stories are challenging, inspiring, and critical, often all at once. The anthology format makes for quick hits of brilliant ideas, and before you know it, it's over, and you're immersed in another author's compelling vision.

Emily Cox. Westport
EmilyC_KCMO



Pet
Akwaeke Emezi
Teens (13-18) 

This slim YA debut details the emotionally powerful quest of Jam who comes from a loving home in a world seemingly free from human cruelty. This tackles big topics like justice and the nature of evil via a metaphor that rings true.    

Lauren Olson,  Youth & Family Engagement
LaurenO_KCMO



Queen of the Sea
Dylan Meconis
Youth (6-12)

I felt like I learned a bit of a history I wasn't familiar with. The drawings are beautiful. Great story.

Jamie Mayo, Youth & Family Engagement
JamieM_KCMO



Shadow and Flame
Mindee Arnett
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

This was the conclusion to a two-part fantasy fiction series that has a strong female lead character, a great love story, warring factions, with an emotional end.

Kara Evans, Missouri Valley Special Collections
KaraE_KCMO



The Silent Patient
Michaelides, Alex
Adults (18+) 

This was a great murder mystery/psychological thriller where your own assumptions are used against you. Hints are thrown in throughout the book but you don't pull them all together until the end. Great read!

Vicky Patterson, Special Events


The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
Junauda Petrus
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

It is one of the few stories I have come across centering the love between two black girls; her writing is lyrical and honest making it an emotionally rich experience.    

Aneesah H., Westport Branch


The Testaments
Margaret Atwood
Adults (18+) 

A fantastic companion to A Handmaid's Tale, this continuation of the lives of those in Gilead fleshes out the world in ways sometimes more horrifying than the first book did. A woeful reminder that even though the first book was published in 1998, the same issues are still eternally relevant.

Hunter Hawkins, Plaza Branch


Truman
Jean Reidy
Youth (6-12)  /  Children (0-5)

Truman the tortoise was “small, the size of a donut—a small donut—and every bit as sweet.” But it turns out he is also a determined and brave little friend to the girl who keeps him supplied with green beans. This charming story, delightfully illustrated, is not without high drama—the tortoise does seem determined to hurtle toward peril at one point—but the overall sensation of the book is heartwarming and full of everyday joy.    

Ronda C.,  Central Library


The Walking Dead 32: Rest in Peace
Robert Kirkman
Adults (18+) 

This is a perfect conclusion to such a great series. Along the way I was wondering how there could possibly be a happy ending when the series has been nothing but tragedy, but the author did an excellent job. This volume has the twists that we've come to expect from TWD, but it ends on a note of love and hope.     

Lauren Votava, Sugar Creek Branch


Wilder Girls
Rory Power    
Teens (13-18) 

First off, the cover of this book still blows my mind. Secondly, Rory Power is an author who's writing sticks with me even months after reading this book. It's an all female assemble with strong, independent, and fierce characters. You want to find out what happened and you want the characters to all come out on top. With all the craziness that happens, I couldn't put the book down.

Alisha H., Central Library - One North Technology Center
AlishaH_KCMO



The Winter of the Witch
Katherine Arden
Adults (18+) 

The final book in the Winternight Trilogy, The Winter of the Witch follows our heroine Vasya as she grows up in 14th-century Russia.  Filled with vivid historical descriptions and strong fairy tale elements, this story captured me from the beginning and will appeal to those who enjoy fantasy with a touch of historical.  In this final book, Vasya must accept the power within herself in order to save not only her home but the newly discovered magical world that she has grown to love.

Stephanie R., Collection Development


The Women's War
Jenna Glass
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

Jenna Glass writes an immersive, high-fantasy novel steeped in the politics of #MeYoo and #Resist where a spell has been cast that gives women complete control over their own fertility.

Lauren Olson,  Youth & Family Engagement
LaurenO_KCMO



 




NONFICTION



BROWSE FULL LIST IN OUR CATALOG
Reading levels:  Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) Youth (6-12)  /  Children (0-5)
Sections:  FICTION  NONFICTION  BONUS PICKS


The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777
Rick Atkinson
Adults (18+) 

Acclaimed military historian Rick Atkinson’s first entry in a projected 3-volume history of the Revolutionary War is a splendid success. His command of the subject is superb and his writing is clear, precise and dramatic. The extraordinary story of rebellious Americans opposing the world’s greatest military power has been chronicled repeatedly. But, surprisingly,  it has been decades since a full, comprehensive history has been attempted and we’re overdue for a new account. Hallmarks of Atkinson’s style have long included careful scholarship and  robust writing. What makes his work rise above that of most military historians is his talent for simultaneously and smoothly writing history from the top down and from the bottom up. And in compelling, page turning fashion. When complete, Rick Atkinson’s “Revolution Trilogy” will almost certainly take its place as the best multi-volume history of the American Revolutionary War. This first volume suggests as much. With two dozen maps, more than 75 illustrations (many in color), and more than 130 pages of deliciously entertaining footnotes it’s a handsome work. As impressive-looking as it reads!

Bill Lewis, Central Library

Burn The Place
Iliana Regan
Adults (18+)

Relatable and honest telling of family struggles, traumas, endurance and attention to the world and surroundings. I keep thinking about this book.

Haley Lips, Collection Development

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators
Ronan Farrow    
Adults (18+) 
Farrow recounts with extraordinary clarity of how he researched the Harvey Weinstein allegations and uncovered a web of practices that protect the rich and powerful from facing consequences for those actions. The writing is powerful and the story is intriguing.
    
Elizabeth C., Collection Development

The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped An Age
Leo Damrosch
Adults (18+) 

For American readers who may know their names, but not their stories, this is a brilliant and irresistible collective portrait of influential famous folk who were friends, associates, and companions at a time when the British Age of Empire was fully launched. Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, Adam Smith, Joshua Reynolds, Oliver Goldsmith, and David Garrick were all members of The Club. Beginning in 1763 they met weekly for evenings of conversation, debate, argument, and laughter at London’s Turk’s Head Tavern. Esteemed historian Leo Damrosch effortlessly brings 21st century readers to those gatherings and transports us to a time, place, and era that may seem far removed and yet completely engages us. Successful biographers thoroughly “know” their subjects; the best biographers also “know” the world that their subjects inhabit. Superlative biographers possess the ability to write with clarity and elegance. Leo Damrosch qualifies on all counts.

Bill Lewis, Central Library

AUTHOR VISIT
Leo Damrosch visited the Library on April 9, 2019; listen to audio from his presentation in the Library's signature event archive.

LISTEN NOW   |  Signature Event Archive

Finding Chika
Mitch Albom
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18)

The book is about children and family, two treasures I always keep very close to my heart.

Esteb E., Plaza Branch

The GayBCs
M.L. Webb
Youth (6-12)  /  Children (0-5)

A great book for kids and grown ups alike! A great introduction to LGBTQ vocabulary that shows kids that differences should be celebrated, not feared!    

Chinesa R., Central Youth Services

How We Fight For Our Lives
Saeed Jones
Adults (18+) 

A stunning and frank coming-of-age memoir about a black gay boy in the Southern United States, which he calls "a death wish." I particularly loved this book because of the unique interweaving of poetry and prose, the author's journey through grief for his family, and the prickly exploration of shame. An amazing book about race, queerness, power, love, and grief.

Megan S., Refugee and Immigrant Services and Empowerment (RISE)
MeganS_KCMO


Both a beautiful and heartbreaking memoir of Mr. Jones growing up as both black and gay in the South, and of finding who we are and how we become the people we are. His prose reads like poetry, and I highly recommend the audiobook version read by the author!

Nicole Brewer, Central Library Customer Services
NicoleB_KCMO


Lady from the Black Lagoon
Mallory O'Meara
Adults (18+) 

A deft mix of memoir, biography, and mystery as the author researches the until now lost life of cinema artist, Milicent Patrick, the woman behind the Creature from the Black Lagoon. As O'Meara reveals each challenge Patrick faced against Hollywood's patriarchy, she comes to understand her own modern challenges in an industry full of ego, innuendo, and art. A brash and honest look at how show business is changing, for the better.

Kaite Stover, Readers' Services
KaiteS_KCMO


AUTHOR VISIT
Mallory O'Meara visited the Library on October 8, 2019; watch video or listen to audio from her presentation in the Library's signature event archive.

WATCH VIDEO   |  LISTEN NOW   |  Signature Event Archive
Little Weirds
Jenny Slate
Adults (18+) 

Having only known Jenny Slate from her comedic work, I had no idea her talent went this deep! What a beautiful surprise. This collection of essays will expand your ability to feel and introduce you to new ways of seeing the world, with an Annie Dillard-like sense of awe (as in American Childhood). Every page gifts the reader with another 'ah-ha' moment. Take this book in slowly, you'll want to re-read these pages over and over again. Her writing is vulnerable and kind, yet she is fiercely determined to be heard, understood, treated with respect. This book is truly Slate discovering herself and who she wants to be moving forward. I'm very grateful she's decided to share this journey with the world. We need more writers—more humans—like her.     

Katie Dennis, Central Library Customer Services
KatieD_KCMO


Nothing Fancy
Alison Roman
Adults (18+) 

Have people over for dinner! It will only make your life better and you don't need to stress out about it.

Haley Lips, Collection Development

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
Garrett M. Graff
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

For witnesses of the 9/11 attacks like myself, this is a harrowing and exhilarating reminder of that beautiful blue-skied day that turned into a horror show. The many varied voices included in this book bring the surreal feelings of that day back in stark relief. This is not an easy read for witnesses, yet reminds us of how we banded together that day to try to help in any way possible. The powerful timeline this book presents is a fitting tribute to the day we wish never happened.

Leanne Kubicz, Plaza Branch

Ordinary Hazards
Nikki Grimes
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18)

Nikki Grimes' honest and open memoir in verse gives readers a glimpse into her life as a child in foster care and an abusive family life but also gives readers hope through her beautiful poems.

April Roy, Plaza Branch

Our Rainbow Queen: A Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and Her Colorful Wardrobe
Sali Hughes
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) Youth (6-12)

I’m no monarchist, but it does amuse me to see what colorful confection Queen Elizabeth II has donned for whatever occasion. This eye-candy book is enjoyable in a light and refreshing way, like a delicious lemon sorbet on a summer afternoon.    

Ronda C.,  Central Library

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities
Mady G
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18)

This graphic nonfiction title lives up to its name! You can easily finish it in the span of an afternoon, and there's something in it even for those with a general understanding of the subject matter. Plus, it's narrated by adorable sherbet-colored snails!

Lauren Olson,  Youth & Family Engagement
LaurenO_KCMO


The Stonewall Reader
The New York Public Library
Adults (18+) 

The Stonewall Reader is an amazing resource for those looking to know what it was like during the time of the Stonewall Riots for the people actually living it. Many voices from various walks of life come together to celebrate queer history and the fight they fought to say "no more" to those that wished to keep them away.

Hunter Hawkins, Plaza Branch

Talking to Strangers
Malcolm Gladwell
Adults (18+) 

Gladwell doesn't pull any punches. He talks about things that are generally polarizing topics in a way that brings a fuller examination to them and helps readers find their way to seeing complexities they have possibly sensed but had no idea how to articulate. This book is an essential salve for our country's broken heart and fractured state, something that invites us all to see those on the other side  of our lens and seek out solutions we all can live (and thrive) with.    

Jamie Mayo, Youth & Family Engagement
JamieM_KCMO


Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington
Jacqueline Houtman
Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

Bayard Rustin helped organize the March on Washington in 1963; he was openly gay and back in those days that was something. Bayard Rustin did so much for the civil rights movement and it is about time that his name is out there, that people know about him and that people honor him.    

Maxi M., Bluford Branch

Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power
Pam Grossman
Adults (18+) 

A wonderfully written and fun exploration of the cultural history, significance, multiple and ever-changing meanings of the English word "witch." Grossman is unique in that she identifies as a witch, but explores the myriad of ways others identify with this word. She leaves no one out, from women who simply identify as a "Woman In Total Control of Herself," to those who practice "magick," whether Pagan, Wiccan, or their own blend of beliefs. She addresses the debate about cultural appropriation and white supremacy in the larger spiritual movement, as well as the use of the "witch" to sell products. She writes from a deeply personal place and ends with a beautiful statement on why the concept of "the witch" has been and will continue to be so powerful. She writes, "And there are more of us than ever who call ourselves witches, whether figuratively or literally, poetically or politically. We do it out of a need for rebellion or a sense of belonging. But no matter the how of it, there is a reason why so many of us are reaching out to the witch for gratification and for guidance. She offers us a pitch-black blueprint for building alternative social structures and stronger selves. Hers is an old story that we're retelling in order to get somewhere new." pg. 273    

Katie Dennis, Central Library Customer Services
KatieD_KCMO


The Witches Are Coming
Lindy West
Adults (18+) 

A no-holds-barred collection of essays that are equal parts hilarious and sobering. West articulates the anxieties and frustrations of many of us, not just millennials or women, have about climate change inaction, the political divide, racial and gender equality, etc. She pushes back against the narrative that we should always "hear both sides," if one side cages migrant children and doesn't see health care as a basic human right, or if that one side claims to represent "real Americans," but makes it hard for them to earn "a living wage, send their kids to college, or retire," or if they vilify the notion that we should care for collective well-being. She writes about everything from pop culture that we've outgrown, to the emotional labor women do to assuage men's fears in the #metoo era, to the latest trends in nutrition and self-care that are out of reach for all but the privileged. With refreshingly raw and bawdy humor, West warns that "it's the third act, and our heroine is angry. She's finally stepping into her power. The witches are coming. It [is] beautiful to watch.”

Katie Dennis, Central Library Customer Services
KatieD_KCMO



 

 



BONUS PICKS

We admit: We can’t just keep our recommendations confined to a calendar year. Here are a few additional books read by Library staffers in the past 12 months that may not have been published during 2019, but still gave us a literary charge.




BROWSE FULL LIST IN OUR CATALOG
Reading levels:  Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) Youth (6-12)  /  Children (0-5)
Sections:  FICTION  NONFICTION  BONUS PICKS


These Truths: A History of the United States (2018)
Jill Lepore
NONFICTION  //   Adults (18+) 

An ambitious history of America that shares the promise, pitfalls, and possibilities of our great nation.

Matt Reeves, Missouri Valley Special Collections
MattR_KCMO


AUTHOR VISIT
Jill Lepore visited the Library on October 18, 2018; listen to audio from her presentation in the Library's signature event archive.

LISTEN NOW   |  Signature Event Archive


Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (2018)
Sarah Smarsh    
NONFICTION   //   Adults (18+) 

Clearest description of class I have ever read.  Class remains, in my opinion, the primary segregating factor in our culture and we rarely discuss it.  This memoir offers a thoughtful and accessible read for understanding the power of class in our relationships, our personal choices and our politics.

Beth Hill, Outreach

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018)
John Carreyrou
NONFICTION  //   Adults (18+) 

Elizabeth Holmes was a brilliant and charismatic figure in the Silicon Valley startup world, and the single-prick blood test that she pitched to investors intrigued me from the first time I heard her speak online in a TED talk. Carreyrou takes the reader through how Holmes founded Theranos and how that well-meaning idea devolved into a web of secrecy, lies, and cover ups.     

Elizabeth C., Collection Development

Calypso (2018)
David Sedaris
NONFICTION  //   Adults (18+) 

Sedaris' personal anecdotes are by turns clever, insightful, and laugh-out-loud funny.

Andrea G., Central Library - OneNorth Technology Center
AndreaG_KCMO

Where the Crawdads Sing (2018)
Delia Owens
FICTION  //  Adults (18+) 

Six-year-old Kya is abandoned by her entire family. Left alone to fend for herself in the swamps of North Carolina, she quickly adapts to surviving on her own. Unable to read or write, she turns to the marsh plants and animals to combat her loneliness and learn life lessons. Eventually she meets young men willing to help her. But what are their real intentions? Years later, one of the young men is found dead and Kya is blamed for his death.  Many secrets are revealed at her trial and in the years that follow.  Although this book was published in 2018, the hold list was long.  I finally got it in last month and it was well worth the wait.    

Diana Ash, North-East Branch

A River in the City of Fountains: An Environmental History of Kansas City and the Missouri River (2018)
Amahia Mallea
NONFICTION  //   Adults (18+) 

In her first book, Drake University historian Amahia Mallea delves into Kansas City’s environmental history, including its historically important, yet often estranged, relationship with the Missouri River. Mallea further examines the complex history of watershed and sewer management between the two Kansas Cities (Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas), and how issues related to flooding and poor water quality have disproportionately affected the poorest residents. This book is definitely one to add to your local history reading list.

Jeremy Drouin, Missouri Valley Special Collections

Halfway Normal (2018)
Barbara Dee
FICTION  //   Teens (13-18) 

I loved this book because it is a different perspective of a young girl that beat cancer and it continuing on in her life.                

Shelby P., Trails West Branch

Monday's Not Coming (2018)
Tiffany D. Jackson
FICTION  //   Teens (13-18) 

Tiffany D. Jackson is one of those authors that I won't ever pass up a book on. She writes characters that immediately attach themselves to you in such a way you can't let them go. You end up caring so deeply for them and the struggles they go through that no matter what happens in the end, you will still sit back and say, "That was amazingly written!"

Alisha H., Central Library - One North Technology Center
AlishaH_KCMO


The Power (2017)
Naomi Alderman
FICTION  //  Adults (18+) 

I really liked the way this book was written. The multiple perspectives helped to expand the story and added layers that made the whole narrative really come alive.    

Chinesa R., Central Youth Services

Year One (2017)
Nora Roberts
FICTION   //  Adults (18+) 

Although this title was released in 2017, it is the first of the Chronicles of the One series. The final title, The Rise of Magicks, came out in 2019 and I am on the waiting list to read it. This is an apocalypse story, similar to Stephen King's The Stand. Roberts keeps you hooked with the fight between good & evil, sometimes coming from a direction you didn't expect. The series follows The One as she grows into the only one being able to stop the evil forces bent on destroying the Earth and all who dwell here. The first two books have a great pace and keep you guessing what will happen next. I recommend this series to anyone interested in apocalypse and magic stories. Oh, and the large print editions are wonderful! Very easy to read without straining your eyes!

Vicky Patterson, Special Events

The Other Alcott (2017)
Elise Hooper
FICTION  //  Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

I like this book because it about all of the Alcott sisters and the impact they had on each other.

Shelby P., Trails West Branch

Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories (2016)
Andrea Camilleri
FICTION  //  Adults (18+)

When Italian author Andrea Camilleri died at age 93 this year, The New York Times obituary rhapsodized about his Montalbano mystery series, set in Sicily. Thank you, New York Times, because I have been happily binge-reading ever since. Fast-paced and surprisingly funny at times, the books dump you into Sicilian port life, where brilliant-moody-foodie Inspector Montalbano jousts with the bureaucracy, the mafia, the heat, and the regular residents who are up to no end of awful shenanigans. He makes so many bad choices, especially in his personal life, but is oh-so-relatable, and when he does come out ahead, victory can be sweet … or not! An installment in the series came out this year, but Montalbano’s personal dramas will probably make more sense if you read the series in order or start with the short stories in Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories.    

Ronda C.,  Central Library

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared (2012)
Jonas Jonasson
FICTION  //  Adults (18+)

This delightful, fast-paced book takes the reader on a journey through time and across the world in a plot that is full of surprises and endearing characters.    

Andrea G., Central Library - OneNorth Technology Center
AndreaG_KCMO

Ready Player One (2011)
Ernest Cline
NONFICTION  //  Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

I liked how this was a fun read. It sent me on an adventure on every single page.

Chante Thompson, Central Library Customer Services

Redeeming Love (2009)
Francine Rivers
NONFICTION   //  Adults (18+)  /  Teens (13-18) 

I liked how well-written this book was. Rivers has rewritten a secular historical romance of the same name (Bantam, 1991) for the Christian market, and it is a splendid piece of work exploring both physical love and a love of God. Francine Rivers set up scenes perfectly and takes you along a journey between two individuals through their trials and tribulations. It showcases two completely different people who were meant to be coming together (not as simple as it sounds). Overall, a well-rounded book.

Chante Thompson, Central Library Customer Services

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (2000)
David Hume
NONFICTION  //  Adults (18+)

David Hume is one of the most important philosophers of the 18th century, and is arguably the most important Scottish philosopher ever.  One of the proponents of skepticism, Hume leavens his skepticism with a generally optimistic and faithful heart.

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, Bluford Branch
BernardN_KCMO


The Golden Notebook (1999)
Doris Lessing
FICTION  //  Adults (18+)

This is a narrative about the very nature of narrative and its fluidity and its dependence on the feelings and mental state of the narrator.  It's like walking through a hall of mirrors of language.

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, Bluford Branch
BernardN_KCMO


Emerson: The Mind on Fire (1995)
Robert A Richardson
NONFICTION  //  Adults (18+)

This is a penetrating reflection on the development of Emerson's thought and theology.  It is a biography of sorts, but an intellectual biography of one of the great American thinkers of the 19th Century.

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, Bluford Branch
BernardN_KCMO