July Staff Picks

July Staff Picks for adults, teens and children

Librarian Sara K. recommends a few hidden treasures for adventurous readers.

Battle Royale by KōshunTakami
In a dystopian, near-future version of Japan, a class of junior high students is kidnapped, taken to a booby-trapped island, and forced to fight to the death. If it sounds kind of like The Hunger Games, it's probably because it kind of is--but it was published almost 10 years earlier, is three times as dark and addictive, and has a much more compelling cast of characters (sorry, Katniss).

HHhH by Laurent Binet
A fictionalized action of Operation Anthropoid (the plot to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most infamous Nazis and a primary architect and enforcer of Hitler's "Final Solution.") A unique blend of action, philosophy and drama - this isn’t your typical, straightforward historical fiction novel, but if you're the type of person who is fascinated with "getting inside the minds" of people long since dead, this book might be just your cup of tea. (I also recommend the movie Anthropoid.)

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
If you like your books dark and weird--with a VERY strong emphasis on the weird—check this one out! At first it might seem like your typical sci-fi/fantasy/horror novel: a group of “siblings,” each with their own special power—like the ability to raise the dead, or to understand any language—turn against each other after the mysterious and seemingly all-powerful man they call Father disappears. But like an onion (a very dark, bizarre, and bloody onion), there are a LOT of layers to this book, and some of the questions it raises will leave you thinking for a long time after you finish.

Librarian Maggie M. takes us on a sci-fi journey this month with books that seek to answer the question, what if…?

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
What would happen if a meteor hit the moon and pushed it closer to earth? Destruction. Despair. Death. Life as you knew it would be changed forever, and that’s exactly what 16-year-old Miranda is dealing with. The pandemonium and fear in this book are so real that you’re going to want to start researching emergency shelters and stockpiling food.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Seventeen-year-old Amy and her parents volunteer to move to a new planet—300 years away. They are frozen and loaded onto a spaceship with plans to be unfrozen and awaken when they arrive. But something goes wrong, and Amy is unfrozen 50 years before landing. As Amy begins to adapt to her new life on the ship, she learns that it wasn’t a malfunction that caused her to wake early, but that someone on the spaceship was trying to kill her. And if she doesn’t act fast, they’re going to try to kill her parents next.

Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jomny Sun
Be prepared to fall in love with an alien! This adorable graphic novel is about Jomny, a lonely alien sent to observe Earth. He’s so sweet and innocent, you’ll find yourself laughing at his cute mistakes—like the time he mistook a tree for a “humabn” and then, when the tree lost all its leaves, asked the tree if he got a haircut. If you’re looking for a fast read that will make you smile, check this one out!

With a Universe of Stories surrounding us, it’s not easy to pick only a few titles. So, we’ve expanded our recommendations to include both the choices below and a more in-depth monthly list on our website.

Picture Books for younger readers
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Mama bakes a big mooncake, but Little Star can’t wait for it to cool and starts to nibble it away. A 2019 Caldecott Honor Book.

Drawn Together by Minh Lê
When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens - with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Yuyi Morales and her son are dreamers—the books they read allow them to imagine a new life in a new country. Based on her own immigration tale, the multi-award-winning Morales’ newest picture book recounts the challenges and wonders of living in a new country.

Books for ages 8 – 12
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape.

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she's not his grandmother – she’s a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they'll be safe. Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?

Tight by Torrey Maldonado
Bryan knows what’s right for him–reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama is every day where he’s from, and that gets him tight/wound up.

And now Bryan’s friend Mike pressures him with ideas of fun that are crazy risky. At first, it’s a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But if there’s one thing Bryan’s gotten from his comic heroes, it’s that he has power–to stand up for what he feels.