Staff Recommendations

Please visit the Illinois State Library's Talking Book and Braille Service website at:

http://www.ilbph.org

Our latest list features some of our staff's favorite books! Find out what your Reader Advisor likes to read, whether it's childhood classics, suspenseful mysteries, fascinating biographies, award-winning YA, or the latest bestsellers. There's something for everyone to enjoy with these recommendations!


Nancy- Reader Advisor

Centennial

James A. Michener

DB033480    

“I really enjoyed this book when I realized much of it takes place in Colorado where my daughter lives.  When we travel out to visit her I can really imagine the cattle drives and hardships the early settlers must have had.”  1974.

Western, Historical Fiction, Family Saga

You Belong to Me

Mary Higgins Clark

DB046009

Once a prosecutor and then a psychologist, radio talk-show host Susan Chandler explores how lonely women are lured into relationships that turn deadly. On the air, witnesses offer evidence concerning one such victim. Unfortunately, Susan does not suspect that the killer has tuned in. 1998.

“I enjoy all her books.  She writes a suspenseful story without a lot of descriptive violence.” 

Bestseller, Mystery

The Reluctant Midwife

Patricia Harman

DB081809 

“Patricia has been a midwife and an instructor for midwifery for many years.  Her book about a midwife in Appalachia reminded me that I should be very grateful for the modern hospitals and doctors we have available to help get through a pregnancy.  People who lived in the mountains during the depression were lucky to have a midwife.” 2015.

Historical Fiction

Rebecca

Daphne Du Maurier   

DB048914   

Rebecca, the glamorous mistress of a great English estate, died eight months before Maxim de Winter brought a young and frightened second wife to live there. Mystery, intrigue, and violence eventually reveal the circumstances surrounding Rebecca's death. 1938.

“One summer I decided to read all the books Du Maurier had written.  Rebecca is still my favorite.”

Classic Literature, Gothic Fiction, Romance

Death of a Gossip

M.C. Beaton

DB052730 

“I just love the character, Hamish MacBeth, in this series.  Hamish is a constable in a little Scottish village, a place he loves and hopes never to leave. He is really quite brilliant in solving crimes but he seldom takes any credit because he does not want to be promoted.  Light mystery reading with some light humor.” 1985.

Mystery Series


Karen- Clerical Assistant

The Night Gardener

Jonathan Auxier                    

DB079649

“Just creepy enough to keep you reading but not too scary to keep you up at night, this story is beautifully written. Molly and Kip are orphans. Molly is a talented storyteller and is protective of her younger disabled brother. Together, they go to work as servants at a mysterious house where things are not quite what they seem.  The estate is haunted by the Night Gardener. Something about the tree in the yard is not right. While Molly spins tales that illustrate life lessons, the characters are pulled by the spell of the wish-granting tree. If you like Mary Downing Hahn and Peg Kehret, you will enjoy The Night Gardener. This tale of mystery, suspense and a lesson in greed is a page turner you won’t forget.”  ALA Notable Children’s Book Award-Older Readers Winner 2015. 2014.

Grades 4-8, Ghost Story, Disability Interest, Award Winner

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

Jordan Sonnenblick

DB064360, BR017937

“Steven, the main character, is an 8th grader and tells this story with his witty sense of humor. He becomes the support for his younger brother who is seriously ill. Steven deals with the situation in the usual teenage way – by turning to his music. While this story will have you crying, you will also be laughing. I would also recommend reading other books by this author.” 2008 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Award Winner. 2004.

Grades 5-8, Family and Friends, Award Winner

The Boy Who Dared

Susan Campbell Bartoletti

DB069770, BR018376

“Based on a real person, Bartoletti tells the story of Helmuth Hubener, a teen growing up Nazi Germany.  In flashbacks, we learn how Helmuth grows up playing with toy soldiers to experiencing the violence against Jews and the propaganda presented by the Germans.  He quietly mounts a campaign to against the Nazi regime but is captured. His fate is not a happy one but the courage and heroism is touching.” 2009 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults. 2008.

Young Adult, Award Winner, Historical Fiction, WWII

Chains

Laurie Halse Anderson

DB068396

“This is the story of Isabel’s life as a slave in New York City.  Even though Isabel and her sister were to be freed upon the death of their owner, they are sold into slavery once again. Life is cruel to her and yet she hopes and strives to become free. The author did extensive research in writing this story which makes the struggles of Isabel and the others so heart wrenching to read.  This story is an insight into the people and our country in 1776. Be sure to read the author notes at the end.” 2009 ALA Notable Children's Books. 2009.

Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Adventure, War, Commercial Audiobook

Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1

Marissa Meyer

DB075631

“Boy meets girl. This is obviously a Cinderella story but with the twist of a futuristic take on the tale.  If you can’t resist the classic love story, you will enjoy this one.”  2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults. 2012.

Young Adult, Science Fiction, Award Winner


Mike- Reader Advisor

Barbarian Days

William Finnegan

DB082098

“A memoir following the struggles and joys of living for surfing waves.  The author travels to and describes many out of the way locations.  His writing places you inside the mechanics and shifting conditions of the waves he finds.” Pulitzer Prize. 2015.

Biography, Sports, Award Winner, Commercial Audiobook

Purity

Johnathan Franzen

DB082740

“A novel set in the present day about a woman searching for clues about her parents that bring her into contact with an organization that leaks secrets about those in power.” 2015.

Modern Fiction, Humor

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the Rise of the Radical Right

Jane Mayer

DB083381

“Mayer reveals the reality of the current political system in America.  An in depth study on the effects of money and how it shapes policies in government.” 2016.

Politics, Commercial Audiobook

Sick in the Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy

Judd Apatow

DB082317

“Interviews with comedians and the varying approaches to comedy.  The interviews cover how comedians started, refined their craft, and the successes they had.” 2015.

Bestseller, Comedy, Biography

Deep Water

Patricia Highsmith

DB078894

“A novel about an unhappily married couple and the lie that spins out of control into murder.   A slow-paced and suspenseful book that takes place in the suburbs.” 1957.

Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Commercial Audiobook

 

Christine- Reader Advisor

The Wright Brothers

David McCullough

DB082175

“This was a recommendation from a patron. There was so much I never knew about them! The brothers had so many trial and error aircrafts before they finally were able to build one that worked.” 2015.

Bestseller, Biography, History, Engineering

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

Bill Dedman

DB077616            

Newell and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dedman detail the life of Newell's cousin, socialite Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the eccentric daughter of a Gilded Age copper tycoon and politician. They chronicle Clark's latter years--when she lived in a hospital room while her mansions sat empty--and battles over her estate. 2013.

“A fascinating real life tale of a ‘poor little rich girl’.“

Bestseller, Biography

A Moveable Feast

Ernest Hemingway

DB064589            

Sketches of the author's life in Paris in the 1920s provide reminiscences of his first marriage and the development of his literary style. Includes portraits of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Ford Maddox Ford, and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, among many other artists. 1964.

“Hemingway’s classic novel about writers in Paris in the 1920s.”

Biography, Literature

Elizabeth the Queen     

Sally Bedell Smith

DB074430            

 “An interesting book about the life of Queen Elizabeth of England. It gives lots of behind the scenes details of her life as she was growing up through the present day.” 2012.

Bestseller, Biography, History

A Paris Apartment

Michelle Gable        

DB079308            

Paris. Seventy years after courtesan Marthe de Florian's apartment was closed up, it is reopened for the first time by Sotheby's. Furniture appraiser April Vogt is brought over from New York. As April sorts out Marthe's life, she must resolve her own issues. 2014.

“A furniture appraiser is sent to Paris to sift through an apartment that has been sealed for seventy years.”

Modern Fiction 


Jan- Reader Advisor

“I like family stories, biographies, light mysteries, medical mysteries, Christian fiction, and sometimes supernatural stories.”

The Girl with all the Gifts

M.R. Carey

DB080678

“A pandemic has turned countless people into zombies (called hungries).   A group needs to escape a military camp and they bring along a 10 year old hungry girl with incredible strength and intellect.” 2014.

Supernatural, Commercial Audiobook

The Light Between Oceans

M.L. Stedman   

DB075192

“The story of a lightkeeper and his wife who discover a baby on a boat alive with a man dead.  The decision they make that day will haunt them several years later.” 2012.

Bestseller, Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Australia

The Romanov Sisters: Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandria

Helen Rappaport

DB079756

“Russian historian examines the turmoil/innocent lives of 4 daughters of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia.” 2014.

Bestseller, Biography, History


Priscilla- Reader Advisor

“My favorite book is usually the one that I’m currently reading, but here are some of my favorites from childhood.”

Amelia Bedelia  

Peggy Parish

DB040183, BR010284

When Amelia Bedelia shows up for her first day of work as a housekeeper, her new employer, Mrs. Rogers, gives her a list of things to do and drives away. Amelia is puzzled by the instructions but follows them anyway. She dresses the chicken in a little outfit, dusts the furniture with dusting powder, and cuts up the towels to change them. 1963.

Grades K-3, Humor

Pippi Longstocking

Astrid Lindgren

DB071967, BR007770, DB014480 (Spanish Language)  

Escapades of a lucky little girl who lives with a horse and a monkey--but without any parents--at the edge of a Swedish village. Tiina Nunnally's 2007 translation. 1945.

Grades 3-6, Adventure

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

DB022914, BR009549 

Claudia, feeling misunderstood at home, takes her younger brother and runs away to New York City where she sets up housekeeping in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Newbery Award. 1967.

Grades 4-6, Mystery, Adventure, Award Winner

 

Fay- Reader Advisor

March

Geraldine Brooks

DB064617

“I have read Little Women several times in my life. This book tells about the father of the March family, where he was, what he was doing while his wife and daughters struggled with his absence. Brooks brings this character and time of our country to life.” Pulitzer Prize Winner. 2005.

Historical Fiction, War, Award Winner

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Garth Stein

DB066787

“Denny Swift, a race car driver, has a faithful friend in Enzo. Enzo is a mixed breed dog who believes he will be reincarnated as a human. Enzo tells Denny’s story with humor and compassion. A short book with humor, wit, and lots of reading interest.” 2008.

Bestseller, Sports, Animals, Modern Fiction

Proof

Dick Francis

DB021505

“I started reading Dick Francis’ books in the 1960s. When I became a Reader Advisor in 1997, my Circulation Manager joked with me that no matter what kind of book a patron asked for I had a Dick Francis book for them. No joke! There is one for everyone! This book centers on the wine and whiskey business and the complex racing world in England. HAVE I GOT A DICK FRANCIS FOR YOU? Yes, I do!” 1985.

Bestseller, Mystery

Tapestry of Fortunes

Elizabeth Berg

DB076670

“Elizabeth Berg is an Illinois author who tells compelling stories of every day people just like us. Life crises: coping with them and the changes that are made due to them. The writing brings you into their lives with you hanging on to find out how it all turns out.” 2013.

Modern Fiction, Friendship, Romance

Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure

Matthew Algeo

DB069543, BR018519

“A retracing of the 1953 trip Harry and Bess Truman made cross-country from MO to Washington, DC. Amazing how the circumstances of past presidents has changed; Harry drove the car himself, no Secret Service agents accompanied him; the Trumans paid for the trip out of Harry’s army pension. Short book with many “ah ha” moments and an easy history lesson.” 2009.

Travel, Biography, History