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Kickstart your 2023 reading list with these staff book recommendations!

YDL’s staff loves reading, and here’s their favorite books. They can all be found in our catalog.

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie

Suggested by: Kathryn Ziegler, Clerk at the Michigan branch.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Suggested by: Anna Hernandez, Page at the Whittaker branch.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Suggested by: Shane Sales, Clerk at the Whittaker branch.

What she said:
Rushdie chronicles his experiences of the first decade of the 1989 fatwa. He writes using third person perspective as he takes the name “Joseph Anton” to minimize drawing media and political attention to his whereabouts. Rushdie writes the nonfiction book in his style: dramatic and poetic, and revealingly emotional.
What she said:
This book is such a valuable asset to our modern society. It teaches human decency and demonstrates courage in action. I’m sad that this book is often banned because the values in this book will always be timeless.
What he said:
The humor, story, and science-based problem solving all made for a really enjoyable novel.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Suggested by: Monique Lopez-Geiman, Para-pro at the Superior branch.

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Suggested by: Paula Drummond, Head of Adult Services at the Whittaker branch.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

Suggested by: Psyche Jetton, Youth Librarian at the Whittaker branch.

What she said:
It is an extraordinary tale of friendship, love and loss. And yes, video games! Sam and Sadie meet in a hospital as children, and make a lasting impact on each other from the start. The story, covering decades of their lives, is not mundane in any way, but rather a rich tapestry of time and events that weave together effortlessly to give us a story that stays with us long after we finish. Dare I say the perfect book?
What she said:
This title gives the reader a portrayal of two people who hide secrets and how they learn that it can be okay to reveal your true self and fall in love. I like the fact that some deeper themes such as loneliness, friendship, and trust are explored in a lighter yet not comedic tone. There is also depth to the two main characters; you will root for them to work their way to a happy ending.

What she said:
This book has some of the best and most engaging world building and character development I’ve read. The Fifth Season, the first book in the Broken Earth Trilogy, is about social structure, fear, and the ways we construct and maintain power. The story is both engrossing and thought provoking. I couldn’t put it down!

Build your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

Suggested by: Sienna Higgins, Clerk at the Superior branch

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Suggested by: Andrew Hamilton, Business Office Manager

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Suggested by: Kelly Scott, Librarian at the Michigan branch.

What they said:

This book is enjoyable because each detail intentionally propels the plot forward and helps you unravel the many mysteries and connections throughout the book.

What he said:
The magic system is very unique and well thought out. The characters feel real, the prose is incredible, and the story is brilliant.  You will laugh, you will cry, and in the end you will want to know more; too bad it’s been [more than] 10 years and [we’re] still waiting on the final, third book of the trilogy!

What she said:
This magical story is about a girl named Mina, who sacrifices everything to save her family and village from the storms that are ravaging her lands. She offers her life to become the Sea God’s bride, only to find that the destiny she sought in the Spirit Land is not unfolding as she had imagined. With the help of a motley crew of spirits, gods, demons and mythical creatures, Mina works to break the curse of the Sea God within 30 days or else she will lose her soul and never be able to return to her world. [I’d] recommend this book for lovers of fantasy and folklore.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Suggested by: Lisa Hoenig, Director

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Suggested by: Sam Killian, Community Relations Coordinator

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Suggested by: Marianne Vanderbergen, Clerk at the Whittaker branch

What she said:
Her writing is magical and wise and true, while Tookie, the narrator, makes mistakes, is unsure, and describes herself as porous at one point. So many wonderful contradictions! Tookie works in a bookstore in Minneapolis and despite her checkered past (or because of it?) does amazing reader’s advisory. Over the course of the novel, her most annoying customer dies, and then comes back to haunt her. The story deals with indigenous peoples’ issues alongside the strangeness during the onset of the Covid pandemic and the fear and outrage following George Floyd’s murder. The way Erdrich evokes the emotions and landscape of that shared experience while exploring Tookie’s past, present and possible future is masterful and meaningful. There were beautiful and thought-provoking phrases in this book I want to go back and write down, and I definitely want to check out Tookie’s reading list! Highly recommended.

What he said:
This is one of the best casts of characters I’ve come across in a book! It follows a caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth who needs to evaluate whether 6 “dangerous” magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. He has a by-the-book nature that combines well (and non-stereotypically) with his desire to do good, and the magical misfits are wonderfully realized. You’re rooting for everyone!

What she said:
[My favorite book of 2022]…is actually a series. I’ve been reading The Expanse books this year, starting with Leviathan Wakes. It’s just plain fun. The chapters shift from the perspective of each of the characters. The setting is space…ships, planets, moons. By the end of each book there’s non-stop action. I’m finally reading the final book, Leviathan Falls. Can’t wait to see how it wraps up.

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

Suggested by: Rachel Resin, Clerk at the Michigan branch

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Suggested by: Pat Mitchell, Librarian at the Michigan branch and Madelynne Rivenbark, Para-pro at the Michigan branch

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Suggested by: Jerome Drummond, Clerk at the Michigan branch

What she said:
It’s an unflinching look at how broken the justice system is, how corrupt the police state is, and how endemic racism is in the United States. It’s also an enjoyable memoir with heart and humor.

What they said:

It’s a fascinating novel about J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white. She became a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, creating a world-class collection that is still the basis of the Pierpont Morgan Library today. (Pat)

I loved this book because it gave an intimate experience to the famous librarian and curator Belle da Costa Greene. A woman who was prolific in her collection development, and built a name for herself on her own determination and work. This book highlights racial ambiguity and the misfortunes of hiding and sacrificing  your true identity and heritage to immerse yourself in consequential work that is remembered for generations. (Madelynne)

What he said:
[This] is my all-time favorite ghost story, except that there is no ghost exactly.  It was also made into a splendid movie titled The Haunting in 1963 featuring Julie Harris as the lead character Eleanor; beware however of modern remakes.  A famous passage from the book:

“We couldn’t even hear you, in the night…. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town. No one else will come any nearer than that.”
“I know,” Eleanor said tiredly.
“In the night,” Mrs. Dudley said, and smiled outright. “In the dark,” she said..”

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams

Suggested by: Samantha Huck, Communications Intern

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

Suggested by: Susana Adame-Goff, Outreach Para-pro

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Suggested by: Mary Garboden, Branch Manager of the Superior branch

What she said:

This book is fascinating to me because it chronicles the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her journey from childhood to the Supreme Court. It was great to learn about who RBG is off the court, and discover how her experiences as a Jewish woman shaped her life and legal career. 

What she said:
I love this book because it is a mix of magic, historical fiction and romance. The story is centered in ancient China and draws heavily on the history of the Second Sino-Japanese war. It’s history that I don’t know a lot about and the magic and romance that swirl around and through the story makes that history thrilling to read about.

What she said:
 I loved the simplicity of this book, the depth, and the moments of light-heartedness amidst such a difficult topic, the death of her father.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Suggested by: Emma Seibert, Page at the Whittaker branch

Never Catch Me by Darius Simpson

Suggested by: Aaron Smith, Librarian at the Michigan branch

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Suggested by: Kittie Kelly-Roach, Clerk at the Whittaker branch

What she said:

What started as a single book Beauty and the Beast retelling bloomed into a wonderful world and story of its own. The vibrant fairy realm of Prythian was populated by main character Feyre Archeron and a cast of wonderful characters that made me laugh, cry, scream, and jump for joy. These books have become very popular on social media and there’s a reason for that… they’re just that good!

What he said:
Darius Simpson is a poet, activist, and community organizer who attended EMU in Ypsilanti, MI and currently resides in Oakland, California. Never Catch Me is his second book of poetry, published by Button Poetry. He is the recipient of the 2020 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, one of the largest awards for poetry in the US. Darius will be reading his work for YDL’s Young Black Writers showcase on January 16th at our Michigan Ave. branch.

What she said:
[This book is] beautifully-written historical fiction. I found the main character so charming and cultured. It takes place during the Russian Revolution, 1922 within a span of 30 years. with the main character, summoned to house arrest in the attic of a hotel where he makes the best of his life with humor and compassion. Such an uplifting and heartwarming story.

Grievers by Adrienne Maree Brown

Suggested by: Stephanie Pocsi-Morrison, Para-pro at the Michigan branch

What she said:

It’s a Afrofuturist novella, falling into speculative fiction that takes place in Detroit, telling the story of one person witnessing an entire city experiencing a grief so strong, it can no longer be ignored. It’s smart, compelling, sad, and an extremely timely story that will have readers grieving along with the protagonist about the depth of loss that Detroit has experienced.