Ames Public Library's Reading Connection
top navbar

Ames Public Library
is a department of
the City of Ames.

bottom navBar
Ames Public Library's Reading Connection
Left Corner

Staff Picks

Left Corner

Andy Catlett: Early TravelsAndy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry (BER)

This memoir-like novel finds elderly Andy Catlett remembering the week between Christmas and New Year’s in 1943 when he traveled alone by bus to Port William, 10 miles from his home—a huge adventure for a 9-year-old! Those days, he realizes, marked the beginning of the end of his innocence. While the visit was uneventful on the surface, his observation of racism and wartime grief evoked deep emotion and feeling. Andy understands that the people, time and place were not perfect, but that the world of his youth was “substantial and authentic.”

- Mary

Thunder VoiceThunder Voice by Sigmund Brouwer (BRO Sam V4)

The year is 1876. Sam Keaton, the marshal of Laramie, finds the dismembered body of the town drunk in a dilapidated shack. Two men posing as Texas Rangers show up asking questions about the dead miner as does Leigh Tafton, a wealthy and beautiful widow from back east, who just happens to be the dead man’s niece. Keaton discovers that a large inheritance is at stake, and realizes that he is now investigating a murder.

- Connie

The Queen of BabbleThe Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot (CAB)

Lizzie, a 22-year-old college graduate, plans to spend the summer in London with her new British boyfriend, Andrew. Her romanticized view of him tanks when she learns that instead of wanting to change the world by teaching young children to read, he has a major gambling problem and still lives at home. She leaves him and heads to Southern France where her tendency to babble leads to a series of misadventures and a meeting with a guy who may just be her true Prince Charming.

- Paige

Loving FrankLoving Frank by Nancy Horan (HOR)

Mamah Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright are brought together when her husband commissions Wright to design a house. Mamah and the architect scandalize the country with a love affair that leads them to abandon their spouses and children to move to Europe. She finds work translating feminist writings, but Frank disapproves of her time away from him. Mamah’s struggle to find her self in a restrictive society, and the sacrifices she makes to pursue a life with an egotistical genius are the focus of the story.

- Paige

The Center of EverythingThe Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty (MOR)

Evelyn lives in a dumpy apartment on the outskirts of a small Kansas town with her single mother, Tina. Populated by richly drawn characters, the novel follows Evelyn from her innocence as a 10-year-old through her rocky transition to young adulthood. Tina tries to keep their lives together but barely does as she loses her job, gets pregnant, and has a disabled baby. Evelyn loves her mother, but is ashamed of her. Because she is bright, likes school, and has the help of some influential teachers, Evelyn transcends the negatives in her life in this touching coming-of-age story.

- Paige

Fire in the BloodFire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky (NEM)

Middle-aged Silvio is the teller of this leisurely-paced tale set in his birthplace, the beautiful and rural Burgundy region of France. While the residents appear to live in domestic tranquility, Silvio knows a different reality. He recalls, not with sweetness, but with melancholy and bitterness, the long extinguished passion of his youth. The reason for this attitude becomes clear as Silvio is drawn into the hidden lives and loves of his neighbors and relatives.

- Mary

First the DeadFirst the Dead by Tim Downs (MYS DOW Bug V3)

Nick Polchak is a “bug man,” or more correctly, a forensic entomologist. A volunteer with DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Response Team), he comes to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to aid with the recovery of bodies and to help determine time and place of death of the victims. He soon realizes that besides deliberately keeping him from examining corpses, someone is concealing a string of murders
and using the cover of Katrina’s devastation to dump the bodies.

- Connie

The Spellman FilesThe Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (MYS LUT)

Izzy Spellman, 28, works for the private investigation firm run by her parents from their home. Once a wild child, Izzy is itching to escape her dysfunctional but funny family for a more normal lifestyle. Her parents assign her the cold case of a young man who vanished 12 years ago without a clue. She declares it to be her last case, but is faced with another one right away—the disappearance of her 12-year-old sister. Told in Izzy’s casual, hip voice, this is a funny, fast-paced book with an emphasis on its over-the-top characters.

- Ann

Bitch CreekBitch Creek by William G. Tapply (MYS TAP)

Suffering from amnesia after being struck by lightning, Stoney Calhoun leaves a VA hospital and, drawn by a few snippets of memory, heads to rural Maine and Bitch Creek. He becomes a fishing guide, develops a small group of friends and acquires a trusted dog. He also discovers that he is smart, self-reliant, and has some law enforcement skills learned during his past life. Stoney puts these qualities to good use when his friend and fellow guide is discovered dead while leading a fishing trip.

Snow Crash- Ann

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (SF STE)

In a hypothetical future where the U.S. is carved into small territories owned by franchises, Hiro Protagonist is on the trail of a mysterious new drug that’s affecting people in the Metaverse and in real life. This cyberpunk novel touches on everything from Sumerian myth to computer hacking to human language.

- Jillian

Statements: True Tales of Life, Love, and Credit Card Bills
Statements: True Tales of Life, Love, and Credit Card Billsby Amy Borkowsky (817 BOR)

Comedian Amy Borkowsky presents a humorous look at how she (quite literally) spent her early years as a single career woman. In several dust-covered boxes in the back of her closet, she discovered 12 years worth of credit card statements chronicling virtually every significant event in her life. Each statement tells a story in this clever account of what every young woman is shopping for in life: love, success, and independence.

- Val

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (920 WALLS, J.)

A child of the 60s and 70s, Jeanette Walls grew up with nomadic, unconventional parents who eventually settled in a dismal West Virginia mining town. Neither her father, a brilliant would-be inventor who drank, nor her mother, a painter and writer, wanted the responsibility of providing for the family. Armed with intelligence and a strong will, Walls escaped her upbringing but astonishingly describes her parents with deep affection and generosity. Her flawed family’s unconditional love gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

- Val



Staff Picks Archive: