Staff Picks

Staff members of the Boca Raton Public Library share some of their favorite books.

Recommended by Ellen, Library Manager

The Binding

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Books are dangerous and there is no worse occupation than to be a binder. However, after struggling with a mysterious illness for weeks, Emmett’s only hope is to be apprenticed to an old binder living out by the marsh. She teaches him the art of working with leather and gold leaf, but not how to make a book. One night, a wildly distraught girl is brought to the binder, only to leave in the morning subdued and vacant. What is the price for forgetting? In _The Binding_ by Bridget Collins, private experiences become books - protected, despised, collected, and destroyed - some made by unethical binders and bought by voyeur collectors. Emmett’s journey from innocence to awareness is an intriguing story about regret, memory, privacy, identity, choice, love, and self-creation. A well-crafted addition to the magical realism genre.

Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Another fantastic book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This is the story of a band in the 1970s and 1980s, told in brief interview snippets, and everyone from Almost Famous is here: The charismatic but casually self-centered lead, the solid brother on base, the partying drummer, the woman who just wants to play with a good band, the jealous guitarist, the groupie who has a great voice but just can’t grow up, the good and bad managers, and the rock critics. Interesting and amusingly nostalgic, I read this in four hours on a rainy afternoon. Highly recommended!

Recommended by Brianna, Instructional Services

The Memory Police

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Imagine your existence is being pulled apart little by little with tiny disappearances. One morning you will wake up to find the existence of hats has left the world. There is no memory of this item; you cannot recall the size, the shape or even the purpose for that item. The next time the memory of boats disappear, all types of water transportation vanish. As the memory of boats disappear, those that captained boats no longer have a job, but that does not matter because boats were wiped from existence. It is the ultimate nightmare, but since you do not know life with the items that disappear, it does not alarm you as much as it might alarm an outsider.

This book was unnerving and I loved every single part of it. I finished this book in less than a week. It’s quick, it’s compelling and I couldn’t put it down. This is one of the only books that I actually cried while reading – but I wasn’t crying for sentimentality or sympathy, it was tears of pure devastation and horror at the memories that were stolen from the island. Five out of five! I hope everyone gets a chance to read this book.

Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

This book starts with a woman named Amy Whey who helps her best friend, Charlotte, run their local boring book club. Things seem to be going well; the members of the book club show up, their conversations are the same old banter, but that all changes when a young, sultry and mysterious woman, who goes by the name of Angelica Roux, shows up and takes over the club by suggesting they play a game. The other people in the book club agree and it starts to get dark very fast as members start to reveal their darkest secrets. By the end of the evening, Amy is shaken to learn that this mysterious woman knows about her dark past and what she did so many years ago. This mysterious Roux has a few demands to keep her secret safe. If you love Big Little Lies or books by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, you are going to enjoy this book! It has a little something for everyone!

On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

A beautiful title for a raw and honest novel of a young man’s life experiences from Vietnam to America. The narrator, named Little Dog, tells his story in the form of a series of letters addressed to his illiterate mother.He describes a childhood wrought with fear and abuse with occasional small victories and good memories. 

While this book is described as a fiction novel, I believe there is a significant amount of truth in this book. Ocean Vuong builds a world full of cultural clashes, new experience, and heartache. The book takes place primarily in Hartford, Connecticut where Little Dog’s mother and grandmother immigrated with Little Dog from Vietnam. Throughout the story, Vuong describes the abuse he suffered from his mother’s PTSD after the Vietnam War, the confusing budding emotions of coming to terms with his sexuality and the reaction his family has when they find out, the attempt to assimilate into American culture, and the coming-of-age experiences.

It is very difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel for this book. His small victories seem miniscule in comparison to everything else that happens around him. You want to cheer for him whenever he finds a moment of happiness. 

The prose of this book is breathtaking, brutally honest and what you expect from a poet. Vuong weaves a world full of darkness with flashes of hot, searing lights burning through the pages. It’s a book that will leave you crying and reflecting on your own emotions and the power of unconditional love for your family, despite how many times they have hurt you. 

Recommended by Kodi, Instructional Services

The Girls at 17 Swann Street

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

The Girls at 17 Swann Street, a debut novel by Yara Zgheib, is the kind of book you pick up and can't put down until it's done. It starts with Anna moving into bedroom 5 of a treatment center inhabited by women plagued with various eating disorders. I found this book to be unabashedly truthful, and heartbreaking as it drags you along the path of obsessive thinking, the need to be perfect, and a life that led Anna to this place to try to learn how to live again.

Recommended by Sally, Instructional Services


Crewel and Unusual by Molly MacRae

Kath Rutledge is the owner of a (haunted) yarn shop in a small town. As a new co-op of small shops prepares for its grand opening on Main Street, two vendors make accusations of stolen embroidery patterns and fake antique embroidered linens. On the heels of the unsolved murder of one of the town’s respected residents, an exquisite tablecloth is found cut to shreds and one of the two co-op rivals is found dead stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors from Kath’s store. Yikes! Kath and her needlework group, TGIF, “Thank Goodness It’s Fiber,” a group of knitters and amateur sleuths with some degree of success in "assisting" the local police solving difficult crimes, jump into action. With the help of “Geneva” the ghost who can only be seen and communicate with Kath and her shop manager, both murders are solved. This story is entertaining and intriguing. Anyone who ever lived in a small town will readily identify with the cast of characters in this charming "yarn" of a mystery.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services

Book Jacket of The Great Pretender

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

After journalist Susannah Cahalan detailed her own battle with autoimmune encephalitis in Brain on Fire, she continued speaking and researching on the topic of how we define mental illness. She heard about Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan’s landmark study regarding the experiences of undercover pseudo-patients in mental institutions and began what evolved into her newest work, The Great Pretender, a riveting, in-depth analysis of the Rosenhan study’s legitimacy and of the broader history of psychiatry. Her clear writing, in-depth research, and passion for the subject make this a welcome addition to the discussion surrounding the ongoing mental health crisis in America.

Confessions of an Innocent Man

Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow

Debut author David Dow’s Confessions of an Innocent Man is a legal thriller centered on wrongful conviction and the lengthy, often hard to understand appeals process. Chef and restaurant owner Rafael Zhettah’s world is shattered when the wealthy wife he adored is brutally murdered in their home late one night and he is wrongfully accused. His alibi involves an affair, and the jury doesn’t buy his true story of an open marriage or the defense’s arguments that his DNA was present on the murder weapon since he lived there. His appellate lawyers lose appeal after appeal as he spends years in the harsh prison world, many of them on death row awaiting his execution date. When he is finally exonerated, he abandons his former innocent life and crafts a unique plan to seek revenge on the judges he felt kept him wrongfully imprisoned for so long due to their prejudice against their perceived version of him and subsequent stubborn unwillingness to examine his case. Dow, as founder and director of the Texas Innocence Network, is well informed as to the legal process, giving weight to the story’s legal aspects while Zettah’s plan for revenge creates an exciting read.

The Night Tiger

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger transports readers to into the world of colonial Malaysia in the 1930s, with all its lush natural beauty, where local residents and foreign transplants interact among the tropical plantations and villages. Apprentice dressmaker Ji Lin moonlights as a dance hall girl to help pay off her mother’s mah-jongg debts. Meanwhile, 11-year old servant boy Ren adapts to life with a new foreign master while trying to fulfill the dying wish of his former master, a doctor who donated his lost finger to the hospital but who wishes to be buried whole due to superstitions surrounding the sacred tiger and its ability to sometimes take the form of a man. When Ji Lin comes into possession of the finger, their lives quickly become set on a collision course. The result is a fascinating juxtaposition of languages, customs, and beliefs, both ancient and modern, along with romance, suspense, and drama: all captured in Choo’s lyrical prose. This is one of the best books I’ve read lately and I can’t wait to go back and read her first novel The Ghost Bride.

Recommended by Lydia, Account Services

All the Flowers in Paris

All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio

You are not going to want to put this book down. Once again Sarah Jio has written an excellent book.

The story switches back and forth between the main character Celine in 1943 and Caroline in 2009. Celine is a widowed mother living with her father and daughter in Nazi occupied Paris. Caroline is an American living in Paris who loses her memory after an accident.  As Caroline discovers old letters in a spare bedroom she uncovers some truths about herself and what happened in her apartment during World War ll.

City of Girls

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls is set mainly in the 1940’s but spans the main character’s, Vivian, life. An interesting look into the life of a woman who made different choices for her life than her parents outlined for her. Vivian is from a prominent family and leaves her prestigious schooling to live with her eccentric aunt in New York City. Her life is changed forever from that point on.

Lost Roses

Lost Roses by Marth Hall Kelly

Loved this beautifully written historical fiction. One of the best I have read. The author took her time to research the time period well. Lost Roses brings you through the Russian Revolution and the hardships faced during that time. Sofya and Eliza met in Paris and though they are from opposite ends of the world their lives become entwined. Once I got to know the characters I did not want to put the book down. I look forward to reading her next historical fiction novel. I highly recommend this book.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services

Disappearing Earth

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the Kamchatka peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia, two sisters, eight and eleven, go missing. In the ensuing months the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women. Connected by the crime: a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother. Social and ethnic tensions have long simmered in the region, and outsiders are often the first to be accused

The Last

The Last by Hanna Jameson

After a global nuclear war begins, Jon Keller and a small group of survivors at a hotel in Switzerland try to maintain some semblance of civilization, only to discover the murdered body of a young girl in the hotel’s water tanks.

Library Book

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, while exploring the crucial role that libraries play in modern American culture.

Recommended by Nancy, Collection Services

Keep You Close

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

How well do we know our children?  This is the central theme of the new novel by Karen Cleveland  who had a wonderful success with her debut novel Need to Know last year.

Stephanie Maddox is a single parent to her son, Zachary, the child that resulted from a rape by a US senator she was interning with during college.  She has raised Zachary by herself, never letting on who is real father is.  Nonetheless she strove to finish college and law school to join the FBI and become a department head. The book stresses that many times Zachary was left in the care of a babysitter or her mother while she was involved in an all- consuming career.

So Stephanie is shocked beyond belief when she finds a gun in Zachary’s room.  Shortly after that,she is contacted by a bureau head who tells her that her son is now the target of an investigation as a possible member of a terrorist organization.  She also finds strange and incriminating text messages on Zachary’s phone.  Zachary’s responses are all plausible, and Stephanie begins to conduct her own unauthorized investigation into what she feels is a frame up by those who are possibly within her own organization.

The plot twists and turns, as Karen Cleveland deftly communicates her own sense of anxiety about her son and their safety.  And the ending will leave you wondering once again, how well do we know our children? 

Recommended by Deborah, Youth Services


Unquiet by Linn Ullmann

Linn Ullmann is the daughter of famed Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullman, but when she chronicles her childhood, her relationship with her father, and conversations she had with her father shortly before his death, she transforms the personal into the universal, she gives us the archetype Father, Mother, She, He, and Death becomes a character, as well. Although titled "Unquiet", Ullmann's style is quiet, dreamy, almost poetic, yet stark in its simplicity. One is reminded of a Bergman film.

The Suspect

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Barton presents a disturbing story of two missing girls in a foreign country that could be pulled from any number of newspapers, any number of times, in any given year. Add the reporter, the detective, the mothers, a series of emails from one of the girls to her "bestie" back in England, and an ever ratcheting up tension, and The Suspect by Fiona Barton is a taut classic mystery written with an English accent. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Recommended by Nicole, Account Services

The Dinner List

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

In Rebecca Serle’s “The Dinner List” readers are invited to Sabrina’s 30th birthday dinner. Every year Sabrina and her best friend Jessica have a tradition of going out to dinner to celebrate Sabrina’s birthday. But this year’s dinner is no ordinary dinner. When Sabrina walks in, she’s taken aback. Sitting at her table are the five people on her “5 people, dead or alive, to have dinner with” list. Sitting there is the best friend Jessica, college professor Prof Conrad, Sabrina’s father Robert, the ex boyfriend Tobias, and none other than the great Audrey Hepburn! Throughout the night they enjoy delicious food, and interesting conversations. Those interesting conversations bring back memories and issues of the past, happy and sad. This book is all about love, loss, the meaning of relationships, and forgiveness. Enjoy and eat up “The Dinner List” and maybe ask yourself, who would I want to have dinner with?

Recommended by Joleen, Instructional Services

Book Jacket of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow is a lushly written fantast/adventure novel that leads the reader to many worlds waiting to be explored. You just have to find the door to enter them. Follow January Scaller’s story as she yearns to break strict boundaries set by her wealthy ward, confining her to a monotonous existence. At the age of 17, January finds a magnificent leather-bound journal, The Ten Thousand Doors, and her wish for adventure is finally granted. Faerie, Valhalla, Atlantis, Heaven, Hell, and more await behind the doors, where January sets out on her quest to learn more about her family and, ultimately, herself. Experience the magic yourself and open The Ten Thousand Doors of January today!

Black Leopard Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf immerses the reader in an irresistibly complicated world of fairies, shape shifters, and other fantastical creatures, with a heavy emphasis on African folklore. Tracker has a nose for finding things, and when he accepts a job to locate a missing three-year-old boy, trouble has a way of finding him, and the story that unfolds is as wondrous as the world in which it is set. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a perfect mixture of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Marvel Comics, with a bewitching voice unique to Marlon James – you will not want to put this one down!