Staff Picks

Under the Volcano

Modern Tragic Heroes

Is redemption possible?

Protagonists in modern novels are often deeply flawed. Similar to the Greek tragic heroes of old, these modern heroes are undone by aspects of their personality, such as a propensity to live in the past or a desire for immortality. All of the main characters in this list have failed. The questions are whether and how they can redeem themselves.

Cover of Fake Mustache

Middle Grade Humor Books

Hilarious chapter books

When Internet memes and cute cat videos are not enough, it's time to turn to a hilarious book for a good laugh. The following list is guaranteed to make you fall out of a seated position laughing.  Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger

Mermaids in Paradise

Fiction for the Road

Books on disc that make rush hour fly

Here in D.C., we know traffic. Consistently ranking in the top 10 cities for worst traffic congestion, it is not uncommon for Washingtonians to sit in their cars for hours on end just to get to work every day.   My commute is no different, but nothing makes me forget that I'm going 5 miles per hour on I-66 along with hundreds of other cranky commuters quite as fast as a good story. So I have compiled a list of some of the more entertaining, fast-moving, dazzling plotlines that might just have you looking forward to that morning grind.  

Along a Long Road

Books for Beginner Bike Lovers

Picture books about bikes and biking

There is something intrinsically appealing about bike books. Bikes remind me of warm sunny days and the wonderful feeling of freedom and exploration. I think I share that trait with most of the younger population. What little kid doesn't like to go out and ride their bike? Finding a good book about bikes and bike riding can be a great way to draw in active reluctant readers as well as established book lovers. They can also be useful for teaching kids how to ride bikes and building confidence for beginner riders. Here are a few that I have enjoyed:

Dream Boy

'Dream Boy'

by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenburg

Sometimes during your life, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. In Annabelle’s case, the line has completely vanished. Her dreams have become so vivid that she can't tell if she's dreaming or if she's awake. Lately, she’s been dreaming of the perfect boy who gives her the perfect kiss. He haunts her waking thoughts and she draws sketches of him constantly.   

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

New Adult Grab Bag

All About That... Angst

Though there seem to be clear markers of the sub-genre, "New Adult Fiction" is a slightly contentious label. The term was coined to individuate books about people navigating an entry into the "real world" that follows high school and/or college.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Swords and Swoons

Young Adult high fantasy -- with a dash of romance

Swords, magic, political intrigue, and assassination attempts are just a few qualities that can make for an exceptional fantasy novel.  Romantic plotlines, when done well, add levels of tension and emotion that make the best high fantasy even richer and more emotional.  The love stories in these books are not necessarily the major story arc, but they won’t disappoint if you like a side of swoons with your action and adventure.

"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine

A Contemporary Celebration of National Poetry Month

Six books that show contemporary poetry's range

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I've compiled a brief list of six (roughly) contemporary books of poetry that help display the range of styles, content, and ambitions that poetry offers readers today. With more poets writing now than perhaps any preceding age, it's literally impossible to read and enjoy all that the last couple of years have produced, let alone the last few decades. But never fear! There are poems to satisfy just about any reading appetite, and the DC Public Library has an excellent collection to choose from. 

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris

A Trip Through English History

Historical mysteries

Take a trip through England and history by reading historical mysteries set in various eras of Britain’s past. Explore the dawn of British common law in the Plantagenet era, religious upheaval in the Tudor era, the beginnings of formal police services and investigation in the Victorian era, and social change in the Edwardian era, all while trying to figure out 'whodunnit' with citizens turned sleuths.

Cover of Never Let Me Go

Clones in Fiction

Is a human clone any less of a human?

My taste in science fiction, I like to think, boasts a degree of range. Stories that take place in the near-future, the future-future, in space, on a different planet - I have favorites that fall in all of those categories. But across sub-genres, science fiction stories featuring clones always draw me in. I’m not exactly sure why. All of my favorite books about clones seem to pose the question what it really means to be “human" - maybe that's what it is.

Pages