Monthly Archives: October 2011

Staff Picks – The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

In August of this year, Lev Grossman released a book titled “The Magician King.” While straightening the New Book shelves at the library, I happened across it, and the title caught my attention. (Fantasy novels are usually my favorite genre!) After reading the inside of the cover, I was first excited because it sounded like a good book, then a little disappointed because it was a sequel. I set it aside to come back to, and grabbed a copy of the first book in the series, called “The Magicians”.

“The Magicians” was a great read. It tackled a lot of the existential issues I like to see different viewpoints on in my books; like what gives life meaning, and how sometimes dealing with too much success is almost as difficult as dealing with too much failure. Aside from the philosophical and emotional themes the book tackled, it just plain had a great story.

There was also definitely a strong flavor of the Narnia books to this novel; however it was a sort of Narnia viewed through a much darker and more jaded lens. The book still has strong moments of hope, but it is not colored with the same idealism as C.S. Lewis’s iconic series. I also found the characters extremely compelling – on the surface it often seems as though you have them figured out, then Grossman will throw in a detail that makes you view their personalities and motivations in a different light.

At its heart, this book is a coming of age story set in a world that is ours but with richer, magical currents – currents that connect it to another world altogether. I highly recommend it to fantasy readers, especially those that enjoy having ideas that they will mull over for days after finishing the book. I am greatly looking forward to grabbing the sequel and reading it next!

Read a synopsis of the plot here.

Recommended by: Ashley at Main

Find this book in our catalog!


Staff Picks – In the Garden of Beasts

Sorry this one is a little bit late! Still trying to get back in to the normal flow of things after our remodel. I’ll make sure I do better with the update schedule in November!

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

The latest by Erik Larson is once again a masterpiece of narrative writing. Like his previous works “Devil in the White City” and “Thunderstruck” this non-fiction title reads like history in novel form. Set in Berlin in the years 1934 – 1938, it’s the story of the American Ambassador to Berlin, William Dodd and his family, especially his daughter Martha. One gets a sense of the tension developing in Nazi Germany during this period before the war, both with Hitler’s gang and unsuspecting foreigners living in pre-war Berlin.

You will meet them all: Hitler, Goring Goebbels, Himmler, and Hitler’s confidant Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl.
(“Putzi” Hafstaengl’s mother was a cousin to General John Sedgewick who was killed at the Battle of Spotsylvania during the Civil War. In fact, “Putzi”‘s middle name was Sedgewick.) This book will enthrall you with the machinations of Nazi Germany and the difficult choices Ambassador Dodd had to make. He had to walk a fine line with the Germans and the diplomatic corps of the United States in one of the most difficult periods in our nation’s history.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. It is a terrific piece of writing.

Recommended by: Darrell at Main

Find this book in our catalog!

Staff Picks – If you liked Poe…

Last week, we looked at which writings of Edgar Allan Poe are favorites at the library. Judging from the turn-out at our ‘Evening with Edgar Allan Poe’ event, a lot of you are fans too! To that end, here are some suggestions to which authors you might also like if you enjoy his stories.

First of all, here is a good link with one blogger’s picks for the Top 20 Greatest Horror Writers of all time. In this often spooky month, curling up with a good horror story just seems to be a perfect fit, and these writers are a good place to look.

Secondly, I’d like to bring your attention to one of the databases we offer through the WV Library Commission.. NoveList! You can get there yourself by going to and clicking NoveList Plus. You’ll have to log in (the user name and password are on our Databases page) but from there you can find information on your favorite authors, novels, and series, as well as suggestions on similar authors to check out next! Go give it a try, and just play around. There’s a lot of information there to help you figure out where to go next after reading all the books written by your favorite authors, and discovering more that you will like. You can even search by categories.. try searching for “Creepy” stories, or just looking through the “Horror” category on the main page.

Have fun, and happy (spooky) reading!

Staff Picks – Edgar Allan Poe

This week is Poe week at RCPL! We have a lot going on to celebrate. (Read more about it here! In honor of Poe this week, We took a poll of some of the employees at the main library to see what their favorite Poe works were. These are the results:
The Raven – 4 votes
The Tell-Tale Heart – 4 votes
Annabel Lee – 3 votes
Mask of the Red Death – 2 votes
For Annie – 1 vote
City in the Sea – 1 vote

This is obviously a very small sample of all of the many works written by Edgar Allan Poe in his lifetime. He wrote over a hundred literary works before his death in 1849. Many of them focus on the macabre, but he also wrote essays and beautiful, lyrical poetry. Most if not all of his works have also entered the public domain, and can be found on sites such as Project Gutenberg. Download one of his stories from there, or get a book from the library, and give him a try! He sets just the right tone to get you ready for October and Halloween.

Find lots of Poe books in our catalog!