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Staff Picks of 2018

Staff Picks of 2018

Staff Picks of 2018

As we wrap up another wonderful year at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, we would like to express our gratitude to our patrons, our volunteers, our community partners, and our donors for their endless support. You have walked with us on our mission to serve as a beacon of literacy to those in our community who seek knowledge and understanding. This library would not be what it is without you.

As a token of our thanks, our staff would like to share with you some of what we’ve read and loved this past year. We hope you enjoy our list and we look forward to swapping book recommendations with you in 2019.  With warmest regards and best wishes from all of us.

Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin

This is an autobiographical account of a Somali refugee who has been fond of America since he saw his first Hollywood film as a child.  He survived wars, hardship, and different political powers, before escaping to Kenya where he won the lottery to legally immigrate to America.  A great current affairs read.

Contributed by Susanne

The Boys in the Boat : Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel Brown (audio book)

The true story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their heroic journey to the Berlin Summer Olympics.  Our whole family was riveted by this audio book; listening to the races’ stroke-by-stroke narratives had us all on the edge of our seats biting our nails, gasping, and cheering just like were were listening to the live broadcasts in the 1930s.

Contributed by Jessica L.

Never Look at the Empty Seats: A Memoir by Charlie Daniels

Charlie’s autobiography tells the story of his life as a professional musician.  He advises the reader that no matter what your pursuit in life, your focus should not be on those who don’t show up for you.  The ones who do show up deserve your best and they won’t get your best if you’re  distracted by the “empty seats.”  Daniels courageously tells the truth about his life, sharing his thoughts on everything from faith to politics to patriotism.

Contributed by Curtis

Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan by Chloe Coscarelli

Super yummy, plant-based fare from a Cupcake Wars winning chef.  I loved the delicious looking food photography and easy to follow layout of the recipes.

Contributed by Nazanin

What Blooms from Dust by James Markert

This is a story about hope in desperate times and the power of kindness.  I chose this book because I have a particular interest in literature written about families surviving the Dust Bowl years.  The genre is historical fiction.

Contributed by Tricia

There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange

Beginning with an essay by the author and moving into an exploration of the Native American characters of the novel, the reader explores depression, unemployment, alcoholism, fetal alcohol syndrome and other challenges. The story culminates at a Pow Wow where a violent interaction brings all the characters together.  This book appealed to me because Orange’s writing style is approachable and descriptive while presenting a story that tugs at your heart in so many ways.

Contributed by Tina P.

Sometimes I Lie: A Novel by Alice Feeney

The book opens with a blurb stating “I’m in a coma; my husband doesn’t love me anymore; and sometimes I lie.”  This intrigued me enough to wonder what she lies about.  The book has a similar feel to Gone Girl.  It is a page turner!

Contributed by Tina M.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

Fairy tales hide in plain sight sometimes.  As this pair of sisters find out quickly, all is not what it seems.  One sister is written in prose, one in poetry.  It is a really intriguing dichotomy.

Contributed by Stephanie

The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

Gods and mortals collide over the fate of the 100,000 kingdoms.  Myth, magic, mystery, all set in an imaginary world with richly realized characters.  Non-stop suspense and perfect pacing made for a  wonderful read this year.

Contributed by Kristine

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I read several good books in 2018, but this is the one that sticks with me.  This well-written story goes beyond the standard “family-with-issues” to include a couple unique twists. And all the loose ends were tied up.


Something Missing by Matthew Dicks

My husband and I read Something Missing by Matthew Dicks after I heard him speak at the Out Loud author series.  The main character is an odd type burglar with a weekly schedule of entering “clients'” homes and helping himself to little-used items.  An easy-read with some humor.

Contributed by Karla

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

A seamstress gets the opportunity to follow her dream of being a fashion designer when the prince asks her to make dresses for him to wear in secret.  This is a charming young adult graphic novel about discovering your true self through friendship and fashion.

Contributed by Molly

The Secret of the Zipacna Dragons: A Tale of Adijari by S. P. Jayaraj

Gradni, an orphan elf boy starts off wanting to slay the dragons who killed his father, but reluctantly comes to the realization that he is not on the right side.  A page turner for fantasy and non-fantasy fans alike.  It successfully immerses you in a story and world without being bogged down by details.

Contributed by Satish

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

A sad but fascinating story of a butler reminiscing of grander times as he attempts to re-employ a housekeeper for whom he is unable to admit he has feelings.  I enjoy the style in which this is written; a flowing stream of consciousness where the narrator reveals more about his inner thoughts than he means to.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

A great story about a young shape-shifter in a medieval/steampunk-ish world.   She desires to be the sidekick to a “villain” who is fighting against an oppressive government.  It is funny and heartwarming, and contains a combination of fantasy elements, such as magic, dragons, science-y inventions, and epic battles!

Contributed by Sidney Honeycomb

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