Top Staff Reads 2024
See what books GPPL staff loved this past year!
Babel : or the necessity of violence : an arcane history of the Oxford Translators' Revolution
Kuang, R. F. (Rebecca F.), author
1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University's prestigious Royal Institute of Translation--also known as Babel, the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide ... Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?
Kimmerer, Robin Wall, author
Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings - asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass - offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
Children of ash and elm : a history of the Vikings
Price, Neil S., author
The Viking Age--between 750 and 1050--saw an unprecedented expansion of the Scandinavian peoples. As traders and raiders, explorers and colonists, they reshaped the world between eastern North America and the Asian steppe. Based on the latest archaeological and textual evidence, Children of Ash and Elm tells the story of the Vikings on their own terms: their politics, their cosmology, their art and culture. From Björn Ironside, who led an expedition to sack Rome, to Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, the most traveled woman in the world, Price shows us the real Vikings, not the caricatures they've become in popular culture and history.
The defector : a novel
Hadfield, Chris, 1959- author
Israel, October 1973. A state-of-the-art Soviet MiG fighter is racing at breakneck speed over the arid scrublands below - and promptly disappears. NASA Flight Controller Kaz Zemeckis watches the scene from the ground - and is quickly pulled into a dizzying, high-stakes game of spies, lies and a possible high-level defection that plays out across three continents. Ultimately, Kaz must invite the fox into the henhouse - bringing the defector into the heart of the United States' most secret test site - and hope that, with skill and cunning, the game plays out his way.
Divine rivals : a novel
Ross, Rebecca (Rebecca J.), author.
All eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow wants to do is hold her family together. With a brother on the frontline forced to fight on behalf of the Gods now missing from the frontline and a mother drowning her sorrows, Iris's best bet is winning the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette. But when Iris's letters to her brother fall into the wrong hands-- that of the handsome but cold Roman Kitt, her rival at the paper-- an unlikely magical connection forms.
Yarros, Rebecca, author
The commanding general - also known as her tough-as-talons mother - has ordered twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders. With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. With every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom's protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
Galatea : a short story
Miller, Madeline, author
In this reimagining of the myth of Galatea and Pygmalion, "a skilled marble sculptor has been blessed by a goddess who has given his masterpiece--the most beautiful woman the town has ever seen--the gift of life. After marrying her, he expects Galatea to please him, to be obedience and humility personified. But she has desires of her own and yearns for independence"--Publisher marketing.
The Heaven & Earth grocery store
McBride, James, 1957- author
In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows.
Hello beautiful : a novel
Napolitano, Ann, author
William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him. Then he meets Julia Padavano. With Julia comes her family. Happily, the Padavanos fold Julia's new boyfriend into their loving, chaotic household. But then darkness from William's past surfaces, it jeopardizes Julia's carefully orchestrated plans for their future. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations.
The lost apothecary
Penner, Sarah, author
Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary's fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries. Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary's in a stunning twist of fate--and not everyone will survive.
Moon of the turning leaves : a novel
Rice, Waubgeshig, 1979- author
It's been over a decade since a mysterious cataclysm caused a permanent blackout that toppled infrastructure and thrust the world into anarchy. Evan's people are in some ways stronger than ever. But resources in and around their new settlement are beginning to dry up, and the elders warn that they cannot afford to stay indefinitely. Evan and his fifteen-year-old daughter, Nangohns, are elected to lead a small scouting party on a months-long trip to seek new beginnings, and discover what kind of life - and what dangers - still exist in the lands to the south.
Harrow, Alix E., author
Opal has been obsessed with The Underland since she was a child. When she gets the chance to step inside Starling House, and make some extra cash for her brother's escape fund, she can't resist. But sinister forces are digging deeper into the buried secrets of Starling House, and Arthur's own nightmares have become far too real. As Eden itself seems to be drowning in its own ghosts, Opal realizes that she might finally have found a reason to stick around. And now she'll have to fight.
The woman in me
Spears, Britney, author
In June 2021, the whole world was listening as Britney Spears spoke in open court. The impact of sharing her voice—her truth—was undeniable, and it changed the course of her life and the lives of countless others. The Woman in Me reveals for the first time her incredible journey—and the strength at the core of one of the greatest performers in pop music history. Written with remarkable candor and humor, Spears’s groundbreaking book illuminates the enduring power of music and love—and the importance of a woman telling her own story, on her own terms, at last.
Yellowface : a novel
Kuang, R. F. (Rebecca F.), author
Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena's a cross-genre literary darling, and June didn't even get a paperback release. So when June witnesses Athena's death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena's just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese labourers to the British and French war efforts during World War I. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.
Jimenez, Abby, author
Dr. Briana Ortiz's life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalized, her brother's running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants? Oh, that's probably going to the new man-doctor who's already registering eighty-friggin'-seven on Briana's "pain in my ass" scale. But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr. Jacob Maddox completely flips the game…