West Bloomfield Township Public Library
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Staff Picks - Jeff

Jeff is the Main Library Branch Manager. He likes adventure stories, literary fiction, and non-fiction. He enjoys listening to books just as much as reading them.

Nightwoods : a novel by Charles Frazier

Named the guardian of her murdered sister's troubled twins, Luce struggles to build a family with the children before being targeted by the twins' father--her sister's killer--who believes that the children are in possession of a stolen cache of money

The river : a novel by Peter Heller

"A novel about two college friends on a summer wilderness canoe trip"--

The dog stars : a novel by Peter Heller

Surviving a pandemic disease that has killed everyone he knows, a pilot establishes a shelter in an abandoned airport hangar before hearing a random radio transmission that compels him to risk his life to seek out other survivors

Travels with Charley : in search of America by John Steinbeck

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light—these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

The winter of our discontent by John Steinbeck

In awarding John Steinbeck the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Nobel committee stated that with The Winter of Our Discontent, he had “resumed his position as an independent expounder of the truth, with an unbiased instinct for what is genuinely American.” Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbeck’s last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children are hungry for the tantalizing material comforts he cannot provide. Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards. Set in Steinbeck’s contemporary 1960 America, the novel explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty, and today ranks alongside his most acclaimed works of penetrating insight into the American condition.

The white tiger : a novel by Aravind Adiga

Relocating to New Delhi when he is offered a new job, Balram Halwai is disillusioned by the city's twenty-first-century materialism and technology-spawned violence, a circumstance that forces him to question his loyalties, ambitions, and past

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

A sixteen-year-old orphan is kidnapped by his villainous uncle, but later escapes and becomes involved in the struggle of the Scottish highlanders against English rule

The Master of Ballantrae : a winter's tale by Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson's brooding historical romance demonstrates his most abiding theme, the elemental struggle between good and evil, as it unfolds against a hauntingly beautiful Scottish landscape, amid the fierce loyalties and violent enmities that characterized Scottish history. When two brothers attempt to split their loyalties between the warring factions of the 1745 Jacobite rising, one family finds itself tragically divided. Stevenson's remarkably vivid characterizations create an acutely moving, psychologically complex work wherein the brothers'characters, not the historical facts, shape the drama. The Master of Ballantrae opens in the old Scottish house of Durrisdeer, ancestral home of the Duries, a family divided by the Jacobite rising of 1745. Its adventure draws in seas voyages, piracy, buried treasure, magic and nightmare, and centers on the fatal rivalry between two brothers, James and Henry, and the wealthy and beautiful kinswoman who loves one brother but marries the other

Into the wild by Jon Krakauer

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild

Undaunted courage : Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the opening of the American West by Stephen E Ambrose

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a voyage up the Missouri River to the Rockies, over the mountains, down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, and back. Lewis and his partner, Captain William Clark, made the first map of the trans-Mississippi West, provided invaluable scientific data on the flora and fauna of the Louisiana Purchase territory, and established the American claim to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

A walk in the woods : rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Bryson shares his breath-taking adventures and the fascinating history of the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, as he travels slowly on foot

The light between oceans : a novel by M Stedman

"A novel set on a remote Australian island, where a childless couple live quietly running a lighthouse, until a boat carrying a baby washes ashore"--

Gods and generals : a novel of the Civil War by Jeff Shaara

In this brilliantly written epic novel, Jeff Shaara traces the lives, passions, and careers of the great military leaders from the first gathering clouds of the Civil War. Here is Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a hopelessly by-the-book military instructor and devout Christian who becomes the greatest commander of the Civil War; Winfield Scott Hancock, a captain of quartermasters who quickly establishes himself as one of the finest leaders of the Union army; Joshua Chamberlain, who gives up his promising academic career and goes on to become one of the most heroic soldiers in American history; and Robert E. Lee, never believing until too late that a civil war would ever truly come to pass. Profound in its insights into the minds and hearts of those who fought in the war, Gods and Generals creates a vivid portrait of the soldiers, the battlefields, and the tumultuous times that forever shaped the nation.

The beautiful and damned by F Fitzgerald

Set in the heady Jazz Age of New York, The Beautiful and Damned chronicles the relationship between Anthony Patch, a Harvard-educated aspiring aesthete, and his beautiful trophy wife, Gloria, as they wait to inherit his grandfather's fortune. Anticipating easy millions, they embrace the glittering, hedonistic lifestyle of the pretentious nouveaux riches, but find that they are living a dream that is all too fleeting. A devastating satire of reckless ambition and squandered talent, Fitzgerald's novel is also a shattering portrait of a marriage wasted by alcohol and wealth. It depicts an America embarked on the greatest spree in its history, a world Fitzgerald embraced even as he attacked its false social values and shallow literary tastes. Lyrical, romantic, yet cruelly incisive, it signaled a new stage in Fitzgerald's career

A separate peace by John Knowles

The bittersweet rivalry between a lonely, introverted intellectual and a handsome, charismatic, daredevil athlete leads to a tragic accident during the ill-fated summer of '42

Last man in tower : a novel by Aravind Adiga

A riveting story of money and power, luxury and deprivation, set in the booming city of Mumbai. Real estate developer Dharmen Shah rose from nothing to create an empire and hopes to seal his legacy with a building named the Shanghai, which promises to be one of the city's most elite addresses. He offers a generous buyout to the residents of Vishram Society's Tower A, a once respectable, now crumbling apartment building. But one resident-- Masterji-- refuses to abandon the building he has long called home

One summer : America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

Recounts the story of a pivotal cultural year in the United States when mainstream pursuits and historical events were marked by contributions by such figures as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and Al Capone.

The great Gatsby by F Fitzgerald

Bathtub gin, flappers and house parties that last all week enliven Fitzgerald's classic tale. Stylish and engaging, "The Great Gatsby" is also a startling literate portrait of Gatsby's search for meaning in his opulent world. In Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald embodies some of America's strongest obsessions: wealth, power, greed, and the promise of new beginnings

The road by Cormac McCarthy

In this postapocalyptic novel, a father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. They sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food--and each other. This book boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. It is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.--From publisher description

As I lay dying : the corrected text by William Faulkner

Recounts the Bundren family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother, through the eyes of each of the family members

The finish : the killing of Osama bin Laden by Mark Bowden

Recounts the hunt for and defeat of Osama bin Laden, drawing on unprecedented access to primary sources to trace how key decisions were made, revealing events from the perspectives of an adept President Obama and an increasingly despondent bin Laden.

Roosevelt's secret war : FDR and World War II espionage by Joseph E Persico

A study of FDR's role in the "secret war" undergirding World War II reveals Roosevelt as an enthusiastic instigator of many covert operations against the Nazis, the Japanese, and the Soviet Union

The black banners : the inside story of 9/11 and the war against al-Qaeda by Ali H Soufan

A former FBI special agent offers an insider's account of how the September 11th attacks could have been prevented, as well as his role in the war on terror, including his highly effective interrogation efforts.

The things they carried : a work of fiction by Tim O'Brien

This depicts the men of Alpha Company. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have

Killing Pablo: the hunt for the world's greatest outlaw by Mark Bowden

Killing Pablo is the story of the fifteen-month manhunt for Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, whose escape from his lavish, mansion-like jail drove a nation to the brink of chaos. In a gripping, up-close account, acclaimed journalist Mark Bowden exposes the never-before-revealed details of how U.S. military and intelligence operatives covertly led the mission to find and kill the world's most dangerous outlaw. Drawing on unprecedented access to the soldiers, field agents, and officials involved in the chase, as well as hundreds of pages of top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar's intercepted phone conversations, Bowden creates a narrative that reads as if it were torn from the pages of a Tom Clancy technothriller. Killing Pablo also tells the story of Escobar's rise, how he built a criminal organization that would hold an entire nation hostage -- and the stories of the intrepid men who would ultimately bring him down. There is Steve Jacoby, the leader of Centra Spike, the ultrasecret U.S. special forces team that would use cutting-edge surveillance technology to find one man among a nation of 37 million. There is Morris Busby, U.S. ambassador to Colombia, who would convince the Bush administration to approve the deployment of the shadowy Delta Force operators who would be the key to the drug lord's demise. And there is Escobar's archenemy, Col. Hugo Martinez, the leader of Colombia's federal police, who would turn down a $6 million bribe, survive countless attempts on his life, and endure a humiliating exile while waging his battle against the drug lord's criminal empire. It was Martinez's son, raised in the shadow of constant threat from Escobar's followers, who would ultimately track the fugitive to a Bogota rooftop on the fateful day in 1993 when the outlaw would finally meet his end. Action-packed and impossible to put down, Killing Pablo is a tour de force of narrative journalism and a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. Henry the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood's bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Lee Chong stocks his grocery with almost anything a man could want, and Doc, a young marine biologist who ministers to sick puppies and unhappy souls, unexpectedly finds true love. Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values

Founding brothers : the revolutionary generation by Joseph J Ellis

In this landmark work of history, the National Book Award—winning author of American Sphinx explores how a group of greatly gifted but deeply flawed individuals–Hamilton, Burr, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Adams, and Madison–confronted the overwhelming challenges before them to set the course for our nation.

The longest day : June 6, 1944 by Cornelius Ryan

The classic account of the Allied invasion of Normandy The Longest Day is Cornelius Ryan's unsurpassed account of D-day, a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history. In this compelling tale of courage and heroism, glory and tragedy, Ryan painstakingly re-creates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany. This book, first published in 1959, is a must for anyone who loves history, as well as for anyone who wants to better understand how free nations prevailed at a time when darkness enshrouded the earth

This side of paradise by F Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel features Amory Blaine, a handsome, wealthy, spoiled, and snobbish young man from the Midwest who attends Princeton University to acquire a refined sense of the proper social values. Lacking all sense of purpose, he interests himself primarily in literary cults, vaguely liberal student activities, and a series of flirtations with some rather predatory young ladies. Partially autobiographical, This Side of Paradise was credited with having invented the American flapper
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