BOOKS/MUSIC/MOVIES

Staff Picks

Nobody loves books more than our experts. Browse and filter hundreds of their favorites.

Winter 2018 Picks for Adult49 Books Found

  • Alif the Unseen

    By G. Willow Wilson

    Djinn, superhackers, and holy men clash and team up to protect an ancient text and defend the innocent against a mysterious cybercriminal. It's a thrilling tale exploring the ways we encode knowledge for those who come after us and who should have access to it.

    Staff Pick by Leah Labrecque, 58th Street Library

    Tags:
    • Science fiction,
    • Haunting,
    • Mystery & suspense,
    • Offbeat,
    • Psychological
  • The Allure of the Archives

    By Arlette Farge

    Whether it's the man with a sniffle or the archivist's too strong perfume, the modern human condition is as present in an archive as the lives it's preserving. A beautifully written exploration into entering an archive and discovering the secrets within.

    Staff Pick by Jessica Cline, Picture Collection

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Historical,
    • Society & culture,
    • Strong sense of place,
    • True stories
  • American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst

    By Jeffrey Toobin

    Toobin's account of Patty Hearst's abduction by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974 and her subsequent participation as a member of the radical group is strange and captivating tale.

    Staff Pick by Virginia Bartow, Cataloging

    Tags:
    • Biographies & memoirs,
    • Historical,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder

    By Claudia Kalb

    Celebrities! They’re just like us! Right down to their mental illnesses. Kalb brings us into the minds of famous historical figures from Charles Darwin to Betty Ford, breaking down everything from narcissism to borderline personality disorder.

    Staff Pick by Rebecca Kluberdanz, Kingsbridge

    Tags:
    • Essays & short stories,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • Anything Is Possible

    By Elizabeth Strout

    A collection of nine linked stories, each chapter introduces an aging character from the town of Amgash, Illinois. Themes include poverty, class, shame, secrets, and the trauma that is inflicted in families -- even in small towns where everyone seemingly knows their neighbors.

    Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

    Tags:
    • Essays & short stories,
    • Multiple perspectives,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Strong sense of place
  • Arbitrary Stupid Goal

    By Tamara Shopsin

    Shopsin captures the spirit of her illustrious father and vividly illustrates her rapscallion adventures as a child growing up in the West Village. She even includes a shout-out to the wonderful staff at the Library for the Performing Arts.

    Staff Pick by Sherri Machlin, Mulberry Street

    Tags:
    • Biographies & memoirs,
    • Historical,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Society & culture,
    • Strong sense of place,
    • True stories
  • Artemis

    By Andy Weir

    Jazz is a courier with a less than lucrative sideline: smuggling. On the Artemis lunar colony, even the slightest contraband means exile, but when the opportunity of lifetime falls in her lap, Jazz leaps at it and right into danger. For fans of The Expanse or The Martian.

    Staff Pick by Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil

    Tags:
    • Science fiction,
    • Haunting,
    • World-building
  • The Atrocity Archives

    By Charles Stross

    In the first book of the Laundry Files, readers meet Bob Howard, code monkey for a top-secret occult government organization... who is asked to be a hero. Chaos ensues.

    Staff Pick by Kate Fais, Bloomingdale

    Tags:
    • Fantasy,
    • Mystery & suspense,
    • Psychological,
    • Science fiction,
    • World-building
  • The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune

    By Jy Yang

    Companion fantasy novellas that explore gender, identity, and fate through dazzling world-building.

    Staff Pick by Judd Karlman, Pelham Bay

    Tags:
    • Fantasy,
    • Psychological,
    • World-building
  • Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self

    By Manoush Zomorodi

    Put down the smartphone and read this book... you might never want to pick up your phone again! Zomorodi (host of the Note to Self podcast) discovers the forgotten importance of ennui and offers some sage advice on how to break up with addicting apps and devices.

    Staff Pick by Nancy Aravecz, Jefferson Market

    Tags:
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • The Brilliant History of Color in Art

    By Victoria Finlay

    Modern artists are spoiled for color, but there was a time when certain hues were rare and precious treasures. Going all the way back to the beginning of human civilization, this book delves into color's cultural, political, and religious history. A perfect read for any artist.

    Staff Pick by Althea Georges, Muhlenberg

    Tags:
    • Historical,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • Censorship Now!!

    By Ian Svenonius

    Looking for a humorous yet deadly take on American culture? Mixing desperate seriousness with barbed wit, these essays estrange us from our own culture, fossilizing it and revealing its ideational character. Topics range from Empire to hip hop to Beatlemania.

    Staff Pick by Andrew Fairweather, Seward Park

    Tags:
    • Essays & short stories,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • Chemistry

    By Weike Wang

    Seemingly on the verge of a perfect life, Chemistry’s narrator is actually on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Unfolding in precise chapters studded with surprising scientific facts, this debut may be the funniest, most accurate novel ever written about living with depression.

    Staff Pick by Stephanie Anderson, Selection

    Tags:
    • Funny,
    • Offbeat,
    • Psychological,
    • Seriously good writing
  • Conflict Is Not Abuse

    By Sarah Schulman

    Timely, fresh perspective on what divides us. Drawing from her feminist and queer background, Schulman's book is a treatise on how people mistreat each other, how that mistreatment explodes into tragedy, and what we can do better in trying times.

    Staff Pick by Nancy Aravecz, Jefferson Market

    Tags:
    • Biographies & memoirs,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth

    By Jennifer Chiaverini

    Historical fiction that follows the life of John Wilkes Booth through the eyes of four women whose lives were intertwined with his, for better or worse. Drawing on real life Chiaverini shows us John Wilkes Booth the person and imagines how he became the assassin we know today.

    Staff Pick by Rebecca Kluberdanz, Kingsbridge

    Tags:
    • Historical,
    • Multiple perspectives,
    • Offbeat
  • Five-Carat Soul

    By James McBride

    Character writing at its finest. The characters are full of insight and philosophies, and the stories each take unpredictable turns. The collection contains multiple story cycles.

    Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

    Tags:
    • Essays & short stories,
    • Offbeat,
    • Seriously good writing
  • H.H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil

    By Adam Selzer

    If you think you know everything about “America’s first serial killer,” think again! Selzer did some deep diving into primary sources to uncover facts about Holmes we’ve never heard before. He also uncovered several myths about Holmes that have been perpetuated for decades.

    Staff Pick by Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge

    Tags:
    • Biographies & memoirs,
    • Historical,
    • Strong sense of place,
    • True stories
  • Her Body and Other Parties

    By Carmen Maria Machado

    "god should have made girls lethal when he made monsters of men," reads the epigraph to Machado's chilling book of essays. What follows is a visceral and intoxicating examination of modern womanhood that feels both otherworldly and all too familiar.

    Staff Pick by Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, Young Adult Programming

    Tags:
    • Biographies & memoirs,
    • Essays & short stories,
    • Gritty,
    • On the dark side,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • The History of Bees

    By Maja Lunde

    This sweeping novel covers three generations of beekeepers: past, present and future. Evocative of Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven as an original take on dystopian futures.

    Staff Pick by Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Dystopian,
    • Haunting,
    • Offbeat,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • World-building
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

    By Charles Yu

    When time travel is easily accessible, what do you do? Many try to change their pasts but find they cannot. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician, comes in to save people from making mistakes. Unfortunately, Charles’ father (who invented time travel) got lost in time...

    Staff Pick by Edwin Guzman, Digital Experience

    Tags:
    • Science fiction,
    • Mystery & suspense,
    • Offbeat,
    • World-building
  • Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

    By Roxane Gay

    In this candid memoir, Gay exposes the personal demons haunting her life: trauma and obesity.

    Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

    Tags:
    • Biographies & memoirs,
    • Haunting,
    • Psychological,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • Island of the Mad

    By Laurie Sheck

    Island of the Mad follows the solitary, hunchbacked Ambrose A., as he sets out on a mysterious journey to Venice in search of a lost notebook he knows almost nothing about. This reads like a lucid dream and casts off all shackles of time and space.

    Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Mystery & suspense,
    • Offbeat,
    • Psychological,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Tales from around the world
  • It Devours!

    By Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

    This strange and hilarious mystery explores the intersections of faith and science, after a young scientist falls for a committed member of the suspicious congregation she’s investigating. This is the second novel by the creators of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale.

    Staff Pick by Nanyamkah Mars, Westchester Square

    Tags:
    • Science fiction,
    • Mystery & suspense,
    • Offbeat,
    • On the dark side,
    • World-building
  • It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History

    By Jennifer Wright

    If you're recovering from heartache, this pop history will validate your feelings that everything is terrible, but will remind you that the break-up could've been much, much worse.

    Staff Pick by Kate Fais, Bloomingdale

    Tags:
    • Funny,
    • Historical,
    • Offbeat,
    • Society & culture,
    • True stories
  • The Keeper of Lost Causes

    By Jussi Adler-Olsen

    Carl Mørck’s life’s a mess, but in Department Q’s dreary basement office in Copenhagen Police Headquarters, the cold cases he and his team take up, get solved. For Nordic Noir fans who savor a touch of (what else?) black humor.

    Staff Pick by Kathie Coblentz, Cataloging

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Gritty,
    • Mystery & suspense,
    • Strong sense of place,
    • Tales from around the world
  • Knots

    By Gunnhild Øyehaug

    A collection of short stories that are at turns delightfully bizarre and disturbingly banal. Oyehaug's stories are dreamy, weird, utterly absorbing, and just the right length for a subway ride!

    Staff Pick by Nancy Aravecz, Jefferson Market

    Tags:
    • Essays & short stories,
    • Offbeat,
    • On the dark side,
    • Psychological
  • Kushiel's Dart

    By Jacqueline Carey

    Phedre, born into one of Terre d'Ange's pleasure houses, is purchased and trained as a courtesan and spy in high society. This novel mixes deadly intrigue with eroticism and adventure, throwing in healthy doses of kinky sex before Fifty Shades of Grey made it cool.

    Staff Pick by Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil

    Tags:
    • Fantasy,
    • Love stories,
    • Offbeat
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish

    By Liv Constantine

    A highly addictive psychological thriller about a manipulative con woman who infiltrates the lives of a wealthy Connecticut family, scheming to destroy their relationships and insert herself into a privileged life.

    Staff Pick by Nanor Pogosian, Pelham Bay

    Tags:
    • Haunting,
    • Mystery & suspense,
    • On the dark side
  • Meddling Kids

    By Edgar Cantero

    This is for my Mystery Inc gangs of the world. The Blythe Summer Detective Club is all grown up but can not shake the suspicious feeling that their last case may not have been completely solved. Snarky, unsettling, and highly nostalgic, this novel is for the detective in us all.

    Staff Pick by Susen Shi, Mid-Manhattan

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Mystery & suspense
  • Natural Navigator: The Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature Be Your Guide

    By Tristan Gooley

    This endlessly fascinating book is so grounding that you feel like you're digging your toes into the dirt. The author uses urban examples to show details you can uncover anywhere to connect to the natural world around you.

    Staff Pick by Jill Rothstein, Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library

    Tags:
    • Offbeat,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Strong sense of place,
    • Tales from around the world,
    • True stories
  • New Boy

    By Tracy Chevalier

    Othello transposed onto a suburban playground in the 1970s. Told only through the eyes of sixth-graders over the course of one day, the story gives new voice to the classic characters' racism, casual cruelty, and sense of alienation. It's just as tragic as it sounds.

    Staff Pick by Gwen Glazer, Readers Services

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Haunting,
    • Historical,
    • Multiple perspectives,
    • On the dark side,
    • Psychological,
    • Strong sense of place
  • Ordinary Beast: Poems

    By Nicole Sealy

    Sealy employs a varied set of poetic elements—free-verse lyrics, sonnets, a double sestina, and extended cento, an erasure, and an original invention she calls the obverse. Subjects range from race and gender, to the board game Clue, to Brad Pitt.

    Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Poetry,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Society & culture
  • Plainsong

    By Kent Haruf

    A graceful portrait of neighbors in a small town unified by their habits and their steps toward risk outside of the everyday routine. Readers of Marilynne Robinson (Gilead, Lila) who like character-driven novels will enjoy this.

    Staff Pick by Jessica Cline, Picture Collection

    Tags:
    • Atmospheric,
    • Seriously good writing,
    • Strong sense of place
  • Red Rising

    By Pierce Brown

    When Darrow's wife is executed for a song, he must infiltrate society's elite levels and tear down the ruling Gold caste from within. Star Wars fans and lovers of space opera will appreciate this interplanetary epic of war and intrigue.

    Staff Pick by Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil

    Tags:
    • Running the Rift

      By Naomi Benaron

      Jean Patrick Nkuba is a gifted runner in Rwanda who dreams of going to the Olympics, but as a Tutsi amid Hutu-Tutsi conflict in the 1990's he may not be able to remain apolitical.

      Staff Pick by Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

      Tags:
      • Strong sense of place,
      • Tales from around the world,
      • True stories
    • Sour Heart: Stories

      By Jenny Zhang

      A collection of interconnected short stories told in the first person by daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled to America as a result persecution during the Cultural Revolution. The daughters' voices are raw and authentic.

      Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

      Tags:
      • Essays & short stories,
      • Historical,
      • Seriously good writing,
      • Strong sense of place
    • This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of a Family Farm

      By Ted Genoways

      Did you ever drive past an impossibly picturesque farm, with lush green fields and a red barn, and think, "Wow, it must be so perfect to live there?" This book will strip away your romantic illusions. Journalist Genoways tells a sweeping story of modern American farming.

      Staff Pick by Gwen Glazer, Readers Services

      Tags:
      • Seriously good writing,
      • Society & culture,
      • Strong sense of place,
      • True stories
    • To Your Eternity

      By Yoshitoki Omia

      This is the metaphysical manga I didn't know I needed. What does it mean to be human? We follow the journey of an orb that has been given life. It morphs from rock to wolf and then finally human, all the while learning how to survive.

      Staff Pick by Chantalle Uzan, Francis Martin

      Tags:
      • Atmospheric,
      • Comics & graphic novels,
      • Science fiction,
      • Haunting,
      • Offbeat
    • Twilight

      By William Gay

      Two siblings try to blackmail a deranged undertaker... Every aspect of the story is phenomenal: gorgeous scenery painted out in exquisite prose, whip-smart banter, sly humor as dark as a moonless night and some of the most unforgettable villains to ever flick a switchblade.

      Staff Pick by Isaiah Pittman, Inwood

      Tags:
      • Haunting,
      • Mystery & suspense,
      • On the dark side,
      • Seriously good writing
    • Unaccompanied

      By Javier Zamora

      A timely collection. Zamora remembers emigrating to the U.S. at age nine. He leaves his grandmother who raised him to join parents he barely remembered. He describes crossing the border without documentation, imagining his journey from the perspectives of family members.

      Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

      Tags:
      • Multiple perspectives,
      • Poetry,
      • Psychological,
      • Seriously good writing,
      • Tales from around the world
    • Valis

      By Philip K. Dick

      The author makes himself a character in his novella, which blends science fiction, philosophy, and biography in a no-stone-unturned search for God and the secret of life. This book definitely raises more questions than it answers... and I mean that in the best possible way!

      Staff Pick by Isaiah Pittman, Inwood

      Tags:
      • Biographies & memoirs,
      • Haunting,
      • Offbeat,
      • Psychological,
      • Science fiction
    • The Wages of Sin

      By Kaite Welsh

      In 1892 Edinburgh, a medical student recognizes a corpse in her anatomy class as a prostitute that she's treated at a local clinic and begins investigating her murder. Atmospheric with a strong female heroine and just a hint of romance. Perfect for fans of author Rhys Bowen.

      Staff Pick by Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

      Tags:
      • Atmospheric,
      • Historical,
      • Mystery & suspense,
      • Psychological,
      • Tales from around the world
    • The Way to London

      By Alix Rickloff

      It's 1942. Sarcastic, scandal-prone Lucy has been exiled to the countryside by her parents. She meets Bill, a young evacuee determined to get back to his mother in London, and decides to help him. A wartime road trip perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson.

      Staff Pick by Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

      Tags:
      • Historical,
      • Love stories,
      • Strong sense of place,
      • Tales from around the world
    • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

      By Samantha Irby

      One of the funniest, if not THE funniest book I've ever read. Literally laugh-out-loud hilarious. Pair that with the insight and intense vulnerability the author shares with the reader and I can't think of a person I wouldn't recommend this book to.

      Staff Pick by Alexis Walker, Epiphany

      Tags:
      • Biographies & memoirs,
      • Essays & short stories,
      • Offbeat,
      • True stories
    • What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

      By Haruki Murakami

      Haruki Murakami's magically-crafted (but real) memoir, is a must-read for a) long-distance runners; b) Murakami superfans; c) aspiring writers; and d) those of us who identify with all of the above.

      Staff Pick by Beth Dukes, Youth Education Services

      Tags:
      • Biographies & memoirs,
      • Seriously good writing,
      • Society & culture,
      • True stories
    • What We Lose

      By Zinzi Clemmons

      An inventive novel in both form and content. A young woman rides a wave of grief through the illness and death of her mother. Her story illuminates issues of race, family, identity, and belonging. ​

      Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

      Tags:
      • Psychological,
      • Seriously good writing,
      • Society & culture
    • When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

      By Chen Chen

      Fresh and electric! Chen uses the "&" like a railroad tie to join disparate things. The effect is dizzying. Themes include sexuality, immigration, and belonging on both counts. The energy in this collection reminded me of reading Howl for the first time.

      Staff Pick by Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

      Tags:
      • Funny,
      • Haunting,
      • Offbeat,
      • Poetry,
      • Seriously good writing,
      • Society & culture
    • Zone One

      By Colson Whitehead

      This is the rare book that can be enjoyed both by literary fiction and horror fans. Whitehead imagines a Manhattan slowly being surrounded by zombies. But it's not all blood and guts. There's also ruminating about the meaning of life and the fleetingness of happiness.

      Staff Pick by Benjamin Sapadin, Morris Park

      Tags:
      • Atmospheric,
      • Dystopian,
      • Gritty,
      • Haunting,
      • Offbeat,
      • On the dark side,
      • World-building

    Additional Information

    Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.