Roots Book Cover Roots
Alex Haley
September 1, 2000

One of the most beloved bestsellers of all time that touched the hearts of readers across the globe, "Roots" is now available in the Modern Classic Edition marking the 25th anniversary of its first printing.


Admit it. You’ve been meaning to read Roots for years. Well, I am here to persuade you to drop everything and read it now. Yes, it’s huge. But this modern classic, which follows an African-American family from the tribe in Africa through slavery and into the 1970’s is the most incredible, moving, horrifying, and important story that can be told about life in America. It’s a real family’s story, but it reads like fiction, and is a story that you will never forget. I cannot suggest it highly enough, I think every American should read this book. Try listening to it on audiobook for an even richer experience.

Once Upon an Alphabet

Once Upon an Alphabet Book Cover Once Upon an Alphabet
Oliver Jeffers
Juvenile Fiction
Philomel Books
October 14, 2014

"From an Astronaut who's afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet"--

RECOMMENDED BY: Jessica Schmidt

Letters are used to make words, and words make stories. Well, what if each letter of the alphabet started with a story? That’s premise behind the latest picture book from Australian author Oliver Jeffers. Unlike typical alphabet books, where each letter is assigned only a coordinating word, Jeffers gives each letter a whole backstory instead. Flip through the pages to discover just what exactly the King of France has to do with keys and cheese, why robots don’t like rain clouds, and solve the mystery of the stolen X-ray spectacles. Young readers (and listeners!) will find themselves giggling over the often absurd situations these letters have gotten into, and just might be inspired to create letter stories of their very own.

Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald Book Cover Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Therese Fowler
March 26, 2013

A tale inspired by the marriage of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald follows their union in defiance of her father's opposition and her scandalous transformation into a Jazz Age celebrity in the literary party scenes of New York, Paris, and the French Riviera.


Z is a great fictional retelling of the famous and sometimes infamous Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s well known that Zelda was “crazy” and “wild,” and maybe she was all these things, but this book gives her a voice that sounds reasoned, plagued by unfulfilled dreams and a destructive marriage. Zelda’s story is one I think that every woman can recognize and appreciate. It was a fun and straight-forward read that kept me interested all the way through, and is peppered with recognizable celebrities like Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, and Pablo Picasso.


Outlander Book Cover Outlander
Diana Gabaldon
New York, N.Y. : Delacore Press ; Toronto : Doubleday Canada

Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to Scotland in 1743, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for James Fraser, a young soldier


There is only one word that can accurately describe Outlander: delicious. This book was everything I didn’t know I wanted in a book. Set in 1945 Scotland, Claire is a seasoned war nurse who gets unexpectedly thrown back in time to 1743 Scotland, and the action never stops. I devoured this 850 page book in a week’s time and immediately wanted to reread it. Outlander is part historical fiction, part fantasy, part steamy romance, all mixed with political intrigue, war, and high-intensity action scenes that ensured there was never a dull moment. It may not be for everyone, but if you like at least three of the above categories, give it a try.


Belzhar Book Cover Belzhar
Meg Wolitzer
Juvenile Fiction
Dutton Childrens Books
September 30, 2014

A young adult debut by the best-selling author of The Interestings traces the experiences of Jam, who is sent to a therapeutic Vermont boarding school where she confronts her losses in the aftermath of her beloved boyfriend's shattering death. Simultaneous eBook.

RECOMMENDED BY: Jessica Schmidt

41 days. That’s all the time that Jam Gallahue had with her boyfriend, Reeve, before he was gone. Floundering in grief, Jam starts over at The Wooden Barn, a boarding school for “emotionally fragile and highly intelligent” high school students. She’s placed in class called Special Topics with four other students, where they study the work of Sylvia Plath. The five teenagers quickly realize that they’ve each lost someone—or something—in a terrible tragedy… and that the journals assigned by their Special Topics teacher allows each of them to be transported back to a happier place. Jam gets to feel Reeve’s arms around her again, and she can’t imagine what will happen when the journal pages are filled. But as the semester progresses and Jam learns more about her new friends’ losses, she begins to question her own memories of those intense 41 days. Fans of E. Lockhart’s phenomenal We Were Liars will be ecstatic to discover a new book with enough weight (and plot twists) to stand alongside its predecessor.

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming Book Cover Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson
Juvenile Nonfiction
Nancy Paulsen Books
August 28, 2014

In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South.

RECOMMENDED BY: Jessica Schmidt

From Ohio to South Carolina to New York, Jacqueline Woodson’s voice can be heard loud and clear. Part memoir and part fiction, Jacqueline tells her story of growing up African-American in the 1960’s and 70’s through free verse poetry. Though set amid the larger picture of the Civil Rights movement, Jacqueline tells her own story– her parents’ split, life with grandparents, friendships, school days, and moves that take her family across the country and back again. Readers will connect with Jacqueline’s own struggle to learn how to read and how the desire to tell her own stories kept her motivated. Brown Girl Dreaming is a fantastic introduction to both free verse poetry as a format for storytelling and the racial and social conflicts of the United States in the 60’s and 70’s. Don’t miss this recent winner of a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the National Book Award!


Missoula Book Cover Missoula
Jon Krakauer

A "narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana--stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape"--Dust jacket flap.


High school graduates: congratulations and READ THIS BOOK! Share it with your parents and all your college-age friends.

“There’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college.” Trey Parker (born 1969), South Park

“Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Animal House, 1978

2015. Campus life isn’t so funny anymore. This book is NOT funny. However, understanding its subject matter could prevent terrible suffering. Read, think, talk: about recognizing assault-risk situations, about the effects of alcohol and other mind-altering substances, about state laws on sexual assault, about your school’s policies on sexual assault, about consent, about what to do during an assault, about what to do immediately after an assault, about consequences of sexual assault for the victim, about consequences for the accused. Mentally file this information and be ever aware. And may this issue never tarnish your life!

Genre: Education

Princess of the Midnight Ball

Princess of the Midnight Ball Book Cover Princess of the Midnight Ball
Jessica Day George
Juvenile Fiction
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
January 20, 2009

Returning home from the war, young Galen finds work with his mother’s family in the royal gardens. There he learns that the king’s twelve daughters have a secret: every night they dance their shoes to tatters, but no one knows how or why. When prince after prince tries and fails to find the answer, and the family is haunted by accusations of witchcraft, Galen decides to help. Armed with a pair of silver knitting needles and an invisibility cloak given to him by a strange old woman, he follows the princesses and unlocks the secret of their curse.


Being a princess may seem like a dream come true, unless you’re under a spell; which is exactly the problem Princess Rose and her eleven younger sisters are faced with. Each night they must travel to an underground kingdom and dance until they have worn holes in their shoes. Unable to figure out where his daughters go every night, King Gregor promises a reward for anyone who can solve the mystery of the dancing slippers. When the young palace gardener, Galen, vows to break the spell, he has a few advantages up his sleeve: magic, and a talent for knitting. But will these be enough or will Rose and her sisters be destined to dance forever? Based on the classic story, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, this is a book anyone who enjoys fairy tales will fall in love with. It balances just the right amount of adventure, romance, and, of course, magic.

Genre: Juvenile Fiction
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