Category Archives: Reading Lists

What We Loved in 2014

read_loved_2014Mill Valley Public Library Staff Picks- What we Read and Loved in 2014


  • The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke (2007; read by Will Patton)
  • The Long Walk: a Story of War and the Life that Follows by Brian Castner (2012; read by the author)
  • Destiny of the Republic: a Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a Presidents by Candace Millard (2011; read by Paul Michael)
  • Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters (2014; read by the author)
  • Selected Shorts: American Classics (2010; various readers)
  • Selected Shorts: Wondrous Women (2008; various readers)


  • Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton (2014)
  • The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (2014)
  • The Reason I Jump: the Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism by Naoki Higashida, translated by David Mitchell (2013)
  • Jim Henson: the Biography by Brian Jay Jones (2013)
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (2013)


  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (2014)
  • Jackaby by William Ritter (2014)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (2014; biography)


  • Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle (2014)
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)
  • We Are All Completely Beside Oursevles by Karen Joy Fowler (2013)
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (1991)
  • The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (2011
  • The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (2014; last volume of All Souls trilogy)
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962)
  • California by Edan Lepucki (2014)
  • Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline (2013)
  • My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard (2013)
  • The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield (1922)
  • Transatlantic by Colum McCann (2013)
  • Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (2014)
  • Pearl of China by Anchee Min (2010)
  • One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (2014)
  • Runaway: Stories by Alice Munro (2005)
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (2014)
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2014)
  • Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg (2014)
  • The Complete Stories of Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker (1995)
  • Delicious by Ruth Reichl (2014)
  • The Last Girlfriend on Earth and Other Love Stories by Simon Rich (2014)
  • China Dolls by Lisa See (2014)
  • Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead (2014)
  • Lost For Words by Edward St. Aubyn (2014)
  • A Bit on the Side by William Trevor (2004)
  • Hemingway by Naomi Wood (2014)

Graphic Novel:

  • Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast (2014)
  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (2014)


  • You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty by Dave Barry (2014)
  • Food: a Love Story by Jim Gaffigan (2014)
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)


  • In the Moon of Red Ponies by James Lee Burke (2004)
  • The Quiet Game by Greg Iles (1999)
  • Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman (2013)
  • The Handsome Man’s Delux Café by Alexander McCall Smith (2014)


  • The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir (1989; philosophy)
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (2013; sports)
  • Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter (2009; urban farming)
  • Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals by Karen Dawn (2008; animal rights)
  • The Public Library: a Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson (2014; libraries, photography)
  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay (2014; gender studies)
  • Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: the Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket, and Roald Dahl’s Greatest Creation by Lucy Mangan (2014; literary creations)
  • The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books by Azar Nafisi (2014; reading & teaching)
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma: a Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (2006; food)
  • Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte (2014; parenting)
  • All Joy and No Fun: the Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior (2014; parenting)
  • Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (2014; gender studies)

Sci Fi/Fantasy:

  • The Martian by Andy Weir (2014)
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (2013)


  • I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (2014)

Young Adult:

  • Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (2014)
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967)
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014)
  • How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon (2014)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Judy Nelson (2014)
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2011)
  • Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (2014)
  • My Abandonment by Peter Rock (2009)
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
  • She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick (2014)
  • The Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld (2009)
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (2006)

2014 National Book Award Longlist

national_book_award_2014The Longlist of nominees for the 2014 National Book Award have been announced! Remember, the winner has yet to be decided. Take a look and consider checking out or putting yourself on the hold list for one of these beauties:



Holding Big Brother Accountable–one organization’s reading list

government_watchdogRecently, I came across the Project on Government Oversight (or POGO, as it is affectionately known). POGO was founded in 1981, where it first reported on extravagant military spending. POGO’s mission statement reads: “a non-partisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.” What’s more, POGO produces its own reading lists of books it deems important in the field of exposing government corruption. Check out their Summer 2014 Books That Matter reading list (hey, even if summer is over, there’s never a bad season for reading):

* Not in MARINet system

A Non-Traditional Award List for Teens Living in the Margins of Society

homeless-youthOne of the most amazing aspects of reading is the ability to discover and empathize with any and every experience you can possibly imagine. You can read up on people who are exactly like you, you can step into the skin of a being who has never existed in our world, or you can visit a place that once existed and now only continues to do so in ruins and fossilized records.The point is, you get to choose your own experiences. And they’re endless.

Sometimes we want to read about people who are similar to ourselves; it’s a way to understand the world and how we relate to it. After a while, though, you may want a change. I know that lately I’ve been craving stories that aren’t about lives similar to mine, but feature, in fact, a very different set of circumstances. Again, it’s a way to understand the world and how we relate to it. Maybe it’s a type of voyeurism. Maybe it’s a form of consolation. More likely, it’s genuine interest. It’s a desire to stretch my empathy; to expand my sense of experience (even though I’m not actually experiencing it. Thought to discuss at a latter date: what is the difference between reading about or watching an experience as opposed to living through it directly? What can indirect experiences teach us? What is the benefit?). Some have said it’s a form of self-punishment; the desire to dive into dark holes of despair and hopelessness. But there again, is the beauty: each of us gets to choose our own experiences. We may not be able to control much about our “real” lives, but we can sure choose the types of lives we want to explore in books.

For some of you, the following book list, which speaks to “teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody, or a cycle of all three” will offer experiences you’re completely unfamiliar with or perhaps don’t care to read about. That’s fine. For those of you who sense something interesting, pursue it. Lists like this are important in that they allow all of us to see a group of people who, while facing significant and difficult challenges, are often invisible in everyday society. They help those of us who are familiar with the subject matter (teen incarceration, custody, poverty, homelessness) to work through our own experiences. They remind us that we’re not alone. At the same time, these lists help those of us who have (luckily) never had to deal with such experiences that there people out there not only facing them, but having to live with all of these challenges, daily. And whenever you step outside of your comfort zone, there’s valuable wisdom, experience, or insight to be gained.

The ASCLA has a Library Services for Youth in Custody group which advocates for youth who have been detained in various types of correctional institutes.These books are recommended for anyone who is interested in teens living in the margins of society. Check out their website for the complete list of 25 titles.

The 2014 top ten (of which Mill Valley Library carries 6) are:

An excellent resource for incarcerated youth, the Beat Within is a non-profit organization that works with juveniles in detention facilities to express their thoughts and feelings through words and art. Check out some pretty powerful and amazing work created by teens in the program on the Beat Within’s Facebook page.

World War I Centennial Reading List

Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War -

Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War –






2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials - Day 4

Working Class Heroes


Sea and Ocean Tales