Our Staff Picks blog posts are a selection of titles recommended by staff across various areas of the library, from Circulation to Adult Services; Tech to Building Services; Youth Services to Administration. We hope that you enjoy reading these books as much as we did! If you’re looking for more, consider checking out our last installment here!

Nancy (Youth Services) recommends: Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
Category: Adult Fiction

Nancy says: Miss Margery Benson and her assistant set off on the adventure of a lifetime to find the golden beetle of New Caledonia. The crazy thing is Miss Benson’s assistant is the total opposite of her in every way possible!  Will they be successful on their incredible and sometimes dangerous journey?  This is the story of true friendship, devotion and persistence.  The characters are witty, full of surprises and often outlandish.  It’s an excellent read and a wonderful audio! P.S. Be sure to read the clever interview and the Book Club’s Guide at the end of the book.

Rebecca (Youth Services) recommends: How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang
Category: Adult Fiction

Newly orphaned immigrant children Lucy and Sam find themselves all alone in a strange country after the death of their father. Fleeing threats from their western mining town, the siblings set off to bury their father and free themselves from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.

Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and reimagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it’s about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.

Kim & Ann (Circulation) recommend: When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal
Category: Adult Fiction

Josie was supposed to be dead. After all, she died fifteen years ago. So, when her sister Kit sees her on the news, everything she thought she knew is called into question.

Kim says: I actually read this last year, my first by this author, my first 5-star review of the year on Goodreads–basically it’s about a long- lost sister who faked her death, set in New Zealand & California, with amazing descriptions of scenery.

Guy (Administration) recommends: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre by William J. Helmer
Category: Adult Non-Fiction

Guy says: William J. Helmer has written extensively about Depression-era criminals. The Complete Public Enemy Almanac is very readable, as it is broken up into articles on each bad guy profiled. Al Capone and His American Boys is his latest, although my favorite remains The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.  Those killings turned public opinion against him and even caused other major organized crime families to make him “take a pinch” (get arrested) for a minor weapons offense and do a short prison stretch in PA, hopes of turning down the heat on all of the families.

Robin (Technical Services) recommends: Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Category: Adult Fiction

Robin says:  I described this novel to a friend as a “great ride”! If you are willing to suspend disbelief (and why not, it is fiction), Night Film tells the fabulous story of a disgraced investigative journalist, Scott McGrath, who is looking into the suicide of the daughter of a reclusive cult-horror filmmaker, as well as seeking redemption for himself. There are unreliable narrators,  the deep dark web, lots of creepiness, and wild twists and turns. Buckle up!


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.