December Staff Picks

Like it or not, winter is on its way.  What better way to dream away the cold than cuddling up with a good read? Although Mesa County Libraries are currently closed to public access, we are happy to be offering Curbside pick-up services to continue replenishing your reading lists and movie-watching needs.  Our staff has been diving into some excellent titles this month, and we encourage you to place a hold on any of the following that pique your interest. These titles are all available in our catalog.

Ana’s Pick:

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Evicted Book CoverEvicted follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads.  Given the percentage of people that are very likely to face eviction in the next few months due to the economic downturn, exacerbated by COVID-19 and a lack of substantial aid, it is all the more relevant.  This is a must-read for anyone who cares to understand the challenge of having a place to call home.



Meghan’s Picks:

The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Anne Marie O’Connor

Lady in Gold book coverThe Lady in Gold follows a famous piece of artwork by Gustav Klimt, “The Lady in Gold,” throughout the Holocaust.  It talks about why the painting was created and its importance.  I really loved this story because it talks about a different side of the Holocaust and how even the well-known and very rich had to adapt and deal with the difficulties of that time. I learned a lot of new information that isn’t typically talked about while discussing the Holocaust.  It can be a heavy read, but super fascinating.


The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See 

The Island of Sea Women book coverThe Island of Sea Women is a historical fiction novel about a small island off Korea. The women of the island, although not often recognized, run the island.  This group of women are called haenyeo and they free-dive for food and wages to care for their families.  While many aspects of this novel are facts, the story is beautifully written and feels like a typical fiction read.  I loved the power that these women have and while they were not recognized for their contribution, they remained humble and harnessed their power in thoughtful, subtle ways.


Di’s Picks:

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox 

Crimson Lake book coverThe short days of winter make me long for summer, so its a good time to turn to stories from the southern hemisphere. With all going on in the world right now, it’s an excellent time to leave it all behind and escape into an involved mystery.

Australian author Candice Fox writes riveting, sometimes gruesome, gritty stories set in the far northern tropical part of her country.  Crimson Lake is the first of her series to feature Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell.  Ted lost his family and career as a former Sydney police detective after being accused of a heinous crime for which he was not tried or acquitted.  Amanda Pharrell, a quirky, eccentric private investigator who served a prison sentence for murder hires Ted to help her investigate the disappearance of a bestselling author. Meanwhile, Ted, using an assumed name, fails to remain incognito as vigilantes try to take him out as he looks for proof he did not kidnap, rape, and attempt to murder a thirteen-year-old girl.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man book coverLiking Candice Fox’s books so much led me to look for other Australian novels and I discovered a great read alike in Jane Harper’s The Lost Man, set in a very different but also very remote part of Australia.  Huge distances and the harsh environment make investigating the bizarre death of a man who died, seemingly by refusing to leave an isolated rock monolith, somewhat of a locked room mystery.



Mystery Road (DVD series) 

Mystery Road DVD coverIf stories of the gritty underbelly of rural Australia grab your attention, you may also want to check out the tv series Mystery Road.  It features a tough woman police chief who calls in for help when two young men disappear from a remote cattle station. She and the indigenous investigator who arrives to help in the search are met with resistance on every path they take as well as dealing with some ugly politics related to previous crimes in the area.



Trevor’s Pick: 

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorrell
As a small way to celebrate National Native American Heritage Month this past November, I wanted to read a kids book written by a Native author.  I happened upon Indian No More, a semi-autobiographical novel by Charlene Willing McManis, an author of Umpqua tribal heritage.  Set in 1954, the book tells the story of a young Umpqua girl, Regina, whose family lives on the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation (one of the afterwords in the book explains the term “Indian” is used in this book because that was the term most commonly used during that time to refer to the Indigenous people of the United States) in Oregon.  Regina’s is “terminated”, meaning they will no longer receive federal assistance, so they must move to a new home in Los Angeles.

I found this book to be incredibly moving.  A children’s book that is fully mature in terms of emotional power.  These stories are so important.  Stories of what life was like for the Indigenous people of this country.  Human stories.


Posted in General, Reviews and Recommendations, Staff Picks.

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