Saturday, November 23, 2013

Staff Picks

Over the course of my reading life, literary fiction has been, and I'm sure will remain, my favorite genre. For me, that is where the earth-shaking, life-changing reading experiences have occurred--with books such as Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible; Yann Martel's Life of Pi; or People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, just to name a few. I enjoy writers who challenge my beliefs with new ideas and use beautiful language to introduce me to unknown worlds.  However, the down side of this genre is that the books can be quite dark and intense, and I find myself needing a bit of a "palate cleanser" once in a while. For these times, a light mystery can serve as a delightful little dish of sherbet between the heavy courses of more serious fiction. I have fallen in love with two series that fill the bill. The first is Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, about an African woman who challenges tradition to become a detective in her beloved native country of Botswana. These are full of lyrical descriptions of the landscape, and focus as much on her own personal journey as they do on her solving of crimes. The other series is Susan Wittig Albert's The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, which are fictionalized and sometimes fantastical stories set during the historic life and times of Beatrix Potter (of Peter Rabbit fame), in the beautiful Lake District of England, where she spent her later years. I dislike the term "cozy mystery" but I suppose these might fit that designation, as they are not bloody or graphic. Suffice to say they are light mysteries with a little something extra.

Virginia McCurry
Information Specialist

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Tale of Hill Top Farm: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert