Staff Picks: Best Books of 2019

Favorite Books of 2019 from Staff

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo, “With the Fire on High follows Emoni a teenager Afro-LatinX single mother, in her senior year of high school. She is just trying to make it through when a cooking class (something she loves) changes her outlook on her future. With a lot of love this story paints a sincere and poignant picture of what success looks like when you make your own rules.” -Alexis L., Branch Manager, North Park Public Library

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, “This collection of short stories from the creator of BoJack Horseman is a moving and hilarious exploration of love and modern life.” -Elizabeth W., Youth Services Coordinator

The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone, “A contemporary, science fiction in which technology is slightly more advanced than reality.  An abandoned mansion is now the newly renovated, future corporate retreat location of Eagle Logic, complete with malfunctioning A.I., Nellie, that is supposed to control every anticipated need.  But not only is Nellie not functioning properly, sometimes it seems like there’s another entity present as well.  What secrets are hidden away in the bowels of the Eagle estate and why are they making themselves known now?” -Susana G., Library Director

The Diviners by Libba Bray, “Though classified as a YA book, Bray’s novel, a supernatural suspense set in the roaring ’20s, is a surprisingly dark and engaging read.” -Haley P., Reference, May Memorial Library

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Sussanah Cahalan, “Sussanah Cahalan is a young but skilled journalist with the New York Post when she starts to experience strange and disturbing symptoms that make it look a lot like she is losing her mind. Actually, she is, but not for reasons the experts initially think. This is an exciting, real-life medical drama.” -Katherine A., Manager, Mebane Public Library

Tarra and Bella: the Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Buckley Carol, “This book tells the true story of an elephant and a dog who became best friends. It has ample photographs to bring the account to life and leaves the reader with a warm heart and wet eyes.” -Jenna B.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center, “I laughed out loud. I want to hang out with Margaret Jacobsen, my new favorite character! If you decide to check this book out, I highly recommend the audiobook, the narrator is wonderful!” -Tracy W., Reference, Mebane Public Library

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison, “A beautifully written picture book that tells the story of a brown girl and her daily hair transformations. What is even more impressive is that it depicts a black father in a role that society rarely shows ( encouraging, loving and styling his daughters hair to her liking).” -Ericka H., Manager, May Memorial Library

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton, “This excellent YA fantasy features African American women with the power to make other women beautiful, but at what cost? This is the second in the series – the first is The Belles. Mary Beth A., Outreach Coordinator

Recursion by Blake Crouch, “What if you could change the outcome of an event by going back in time – repeatedly until you get it right and you have to die to do that! The author makes you believe this is possible. -Tracy W., Reference, Mebane Public Library

Well Metby Jen DeLuca, “Totally loved the Ren Faire vibe with this book, was a suitable read before I visited the NC Renaissance Festival this year! Very excited for the sequel in 2020!” -Kayleigh D., Circulation, Graham Public Library

Hitty, her first Hundred Years by Rachel Field, “It’s a Newberry Medal winner. It’s a story about a very special doll with a wonderful personality.  She belonged to a little girl named Phoebe Preble.  The book tells about the great adventures they went on across land and sea while they were together and what happened to Hitty later in life.” -Karin C., Reference, Mebane Public Library

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf, “This is for sure a stay-up-till-the-last-page-is-read book! A twisty, fast-paced plot and compelling characters that are loosely based on true events pulled from the front page make this one of the most thrilling reads of this year.” -Jenna B., Children’s, Graham Public Library

The World that We Knew by Alice Hoffman, “A beautifully told story of magical realism, historical fiction and Jewish mysticism that takes place during WWII. It is about the power of women, love and hope through even the darkest times.” -Amy S., Children’s, Mebane Public Library

Homestuck, Book 1: Act 1 & Act 2 by Andrew Hussie, “There is no pumpkin! The original Homestuck webcomic ended 3 years ago, then surprised everyone with an unannounced sequel comic that started this year! So I decided to give the original story a re-read in book form, both for nostalgia and all the fun moments I’d forgotten. It’s still as goofy and deep as ever. Homestuck follows four kids that go on a harrowing sci-fi journey at the end of the world, where they face true evil, endure meta-humor hijinks, touch on emotional subjects, and care for the friends they make along the way. I’d highly recommend it for young adults and kids-at-heart everywhere.”-Donavon A., Reference, May Memorial Library

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson, “A fresh, fun addition to the widely popular genre of domestic thrillers. The characters are compelling and the ending is surprising—a fast, twisty read.” -Jenna B., Children’s, Graham Public Library

Good Talk by Mira Jacob, “​This ‘memoir in conversations’ makes great use of the graphic novel format, combining illustrations with photographs, and will likely spark some good talks after reading it.” -Elizabeth W., Youth Services Coordinator

Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler, “Gently delivered and beautifully written, moms at any stage of motherhood will appreciate the reminders of hope and beauty and purpose found in the everyday moments of raising children.” -Jenna B., Children’s, Graham Public Library

The First Time She Drowned, by Kerry Kletter, “I found myself yelling at the main character in the book as she tried to break away from her old life and habits and start a new life on her own.” -Barbara S., Children’s Manager, Graham Public LIbrary

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, “This book will really make you think about how we treat the earth and how many of our animals are extinct and going extinct in our lifetime.   Pollution, habitat destruction, over harvesting, invasive species, and the general disregard for nature are all causes for real concern.  The book is filled with scientific data, but it’s written in such a way that it’s interesting and easy to understand.” –Karin C., Reference, Mebane Public Library

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, “This is this author’s debut novel and it is a good one. I loved getting to know the Sorenson family. Just when you think you have a favorite, the author makes you change your mind. In the end, I loved them all!” -Tracy W., Reference, Mebane Public Library

Rules by Cynthia Lord, “Though written for middle-grade children, this novel about a young girl and her relationship with her younger brother who has autism has a lot to teach readers of any age, offering a realistic look into a family with both painful and beautiful dynamics that autism brings.” -Jenna B., Children’s, Graham Public Library

The Unhoneymoonersby Christina Lauren, “I recently discovered this author duo and I’m hooked. Their stories on modern dating are always hilarious and swoon-worthy and this one is no exception!” -Amanda G., Adult Programming Coordinator

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen, “A book about Hepburn’s mother being a Nazi sympathizer and all the privations she went through as a teenager in the occupied Netherlands.” -Lisa K., Reference, May Memorial Library

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, “If you love slow burns and enemies to friends to lovers you’ll love McQuiston’s debut novel! This book has also made the New York Times AND USA Today best sellers list in 2019!” -Kayleigh D., Graham Public Library

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. “A timely and touching love story, Nelson’s delicately crafted memoir plays with genre and theory throughout in her signature stunning prose.” -Haley P., Reference, May Memorial Library

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill, “It is a very soft and cozy graphic novel. The art is lovely and warm. The story is sweet and comforting. Not to mention, the little tea dragons are adorable. It reads how a mug of hot tea makes you feel, cozy and warm.” -Kaity M., Circulation, May Memorial Library

Dark Tide by Stephen Puleo, “About the 1919 great molasses flood in Boston. The book tells the story of how corporate greed and negligence played a hand in the destruction of an entire neighborhood and tragic loss of life through a most unlikely means – two million gallons of molasses. It does a great job of telling about a mostly forgotten piece of American history.” -April L., Graham Public Library

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia, “If you like quirky characters, puzzles and mysteries, Edgar Allan Poe, and books with a strong sense of place, Tuesday Mooney won’t disappoint.”  Mary Beth A., Outreach Coordinator

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, “Listen to the audiobook. The author creates such a wonderful experience, like you are listening to a documentary. You could just feel the anguish of the main characters. Highly recommend the audiobook!” -Tracy W., Reference, Mebane Public Library

Wayward Sonby Rainbow Rowell, “I’ve been waiting what felt like 84 years for this book! Love the continued dive into Simon and Baz and what makes them tick and exploring their insecurities. Cannot WAIT for Any Way The Wind Blows!” -Kayleigh D., Graham Public Library

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. “Soon to be a series on HBO produced by Jordan Peele, Ruff’s novel utilizes the tense horror of Lovecraftian lore to underscore the constant sense of anxiety haunting its characters in Jim Crow America.” -Haley P., Reference, May Memorial Library

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Aliere Saenz, “This book is a beautiful capture of how it feels to be a teen struggling with the problems of the world. It is about self-discovery and growing up. It is about facing your struggles while realizing you don’t have to do so alone. The author has a gift for recognizing the ugliness of the world but also the beauty, and he does it through the reality of these teens.” -Kaity M., Circulation, May Memorial Library

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, “I don’t normally go for epic fantasies, but I’m so glad I gave this one a chance. The three heroines in the book were incredible and the world building was impressive. It’s a long book, but I flew through it!” -Amanda G., Adult Programming Coordinator

Boys in the Treesby Carly Simon, “I listened to this memoir on audiobook and highly recommend that format since Carly Simon narrates it herself. Simon has spent her whole life among the privileged, as well as the rich and famous. Her memoir begins with her early years growing up as the daughter of Richard L. Simon of Simon and Schuster, then goes on to dish the dirt on her musical career and relationships with James Taylor, Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, and others. Simon has no qualms about sharing her life with others, which makes for interesting reading (or listening).” -Katherine A., Manager, Mebane Public Library

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman, “The first line in the book is ‘Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?’ How could you not pick up this book! The author kept me guessing until the very end.”-Tracy W., Reference, Mebane Public Library

Vanishing in the Haight by Max Tomlinson, “Ex-con Colleen Hayes tries to start fresh by moving from Colorado to San Francisco. She picks up a small job investigating a cold case murder of a wealthy benefactor’s daughter when things quickly gets out of hand.” -Ray K., Circulation, Graham Public Library

Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood, “Told in flowing rhyme, Reading Beauty is a fresh take on an old fairytale, in which books are what steals the princess’s heart!”Jenna B., Graham Public Library

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, “This beautiful and lyrical coming of age story will pull at your heartstrings and will linger with you long after you’ve finished it.” -Elizabeth W., Youth Services Coordinator

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, “This was a captivating surprise. Just when you think you know where it’s going, you are completely wrong!” -Susana G., Library Director

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, “Spensa has always wanted to fly – maybe because pilots are the heroes of her world, maybe because her father was a pilot before deserting his team and being shot down. Now she is of age to enter flight school and she realizes that her dream may not be fulfilled. But when she finds a deserted cave and a crashed ship, Spensa sees a possibility and seizes it. A genuine and flawed heroine, a group of fully realized friends, and a ship with a personality make this a fun read. Spensa’s fate and the mystery of why humanity is locked in a never-ending war make it hard to put down! Once again, Brandon Sanderson creates a world that readers can relate to even though it is totally alien from earth. I highly recommend this read for teens and adults who enjoy science fiction and fantasy.” –Deana C., Associate Director of Operations