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If you’re looking for a great read this winter, check out favorite titles of the past decade recommended by members of the Baldwin Library staff, Library Board and Friends of the Library.

Books for Adults

City of Thieves by David Benioff
Before he became famous (infamous?) as head writer for Game of Thrones, Benioff wrote this poignant novel about two friends on a virtually impossible mission to find a dozen eggs in the middle of winter during the Siege of Leningrad. The audiobook version, narrated by Ron Perlman, is especially wonderful. –recommended by Sarah, librarian

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
After a pandemic sweeps the U.S., a man living in Colorado tries to figure out how one lives after such an event that has indiscriminately wiped out 99% of the population, including those he loved. This story so beautifully exposes the resultant loneliness, the importance of the companionship of his dog, choices that must be made, and the beauty of the natural world. This book made my heart ache. –recommended by Denise, librarian

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
A story about four women living on Mount Massada in ancient Israel. Featuring lyrical prose, intense imagery, and richly developed characters, all while fusing ancient history and magical realism, showing that determined, powerful women will do anything to save themselves and who they love. –recommended by Susan, librarian

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
It is an “almost magical” love story that unfolds in the context of globalization and colonization, and comes to a head when the two main characters become refugees. –recommended by Wesleyann, librarian

The First Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and John Mensch
This outstanding book about George Washington “brings history to life” with so many well-researched details and anecdotal nuggets. –recommended by Melissa Mark, Library Board

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
One of the greatest novels I’ve ever read, I loved this story of Malcolm, JB, Willem and Jude. A novel about love in all its various forms – brotherly, parental, platonic, romantic, selfish, selfless – it mainly tells the story of Jude St. Francis, a man who can never quite escape the trauma of his youth no matter how much love and kindness he encounters in adulthood. Anchored by superbly developed characters, Yanagihara draws her readers in and then breaks their hearts into tiny pieces. I cried for days. A towering achievement! –recommended by Maria, Head of Adult Services

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
The author uses humor, honesty and wisdom to investigate why we do the things we do. This should be required reading for anyone dealing with life’s challenges. –recommended by Vicki, librarian

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Take a journey through the Indian subcontinent from the busy streets of Old Delhi to the vast mountains of Kashmir. Roy’s detailed prose will leave you feeling as though you too are in India witnessing key social, emotional, and political events. You will receive a glimpse into the complex lives of a diverse group of characters whose lives are intertwined by love and hope. –recommended by Melissa, librarian

The Nature of Crops by John Warren
Warren, a leading British botanist, shares is an illuminating, useful, and humorous look into how we came to eat various domesticated plants. –recommended by Kristen, Circulation Coordinator

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
Even though I read this story years ago, it resonates with me still and is one I often recommend, particularly to women, searching for a good book; captivating, compelling, moving, beautifully written with memorable characters and set in Bombay, India. The book touches on many themes including loyalty, trust, class differences, and love. –recommended by Donna, librarian

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
This collection of letters and responses from Strayed’s Dear Sugar advice column are beautifully written and without judgement. Strayed’s answers include the perfect mix of common sense, encouragement, and tough love as she weaves in personal experiences with each response. –recommended by Rebekah, Associate Director

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
This is the fifth novel by a British author better known for a prior work, “Cloud Atlas.” I was utterly bewitched by this book, which is a historical novel set during the Dutch trading concession with Japan in the late 18th century. It’s an achingly romantic story of forbidden love entwined with an adventure tale. I was mesmerized by the characters, the storytelling, and Mitchell’s gorgeously written prose. It’s an under-appreciated gem for sure. Bravo! –recommended by Ryndee Carney, President of the Friends

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
Vinegar Girl is Anne Tyler’s take on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. It’s been updated with current popular culture references and 21st Century sensibilities, but it remains true to the original: a lovely and romantic comedy of manners, complete with an eventual and unexpected happy ending. –recommended by Kathleen, librarian

Books for Children & Teens

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give explores socio-economic and race issues in a way that people of all ages can understand. –recommended by Elisabeth, librarian

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Stories fold into stories and unfold again in this haunting tale of seventeen-year-old Alice and her quest to rescue her captured mother. She must venture onto her grandmother’s secluded estate, The Hazel Wood, and then into the Hinterland, where the tales in her grandmother’s cult-classic book of dark fairy-tales began. –recommended by Stephanie, Head of Youth Services

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
This Newbery Award winner is the perfect mix of historical fiction and youthful adventure. –recommended by Rosemary, librarian

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Although this a book that lives on the Youth Department’s shelves, I think it’s possibly more important for adults. Adult books tend to examine the aftermath of decisions, whereas youth books likethis one remind you that you are making life-altering decisions all the time. Is it realistic fiction or historical or science fiction? YES! I read it in an afternoon. I cried, and I cried and I laughed and then I cried again. It was a wonderful gift. –recommended by H, librarian

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