Shelf Help

Every week, staff from the Monroe County Public Library recommend favorites from the collection

You can request books online by logging in to the catalog and get eBooks and eAudiobooks 24/7 from Overdrive or via the Libby app. If you don’t have a card, you can visit your local branch or register online to get one. Questions? Email info@keyslibraries.org.


On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Why: Black history is American history, and vice versa – and few writers make that more clear than Annette Gordon-Reed, the Harvard law professor who won a Pulitzer for her book “The Hemingses of Monticello.” More recently, as Juneteenth was recognized as a public holiday, she wrote a book explaining the origins of that celebration. In this slim volume, she also explores the history of Texas, which goes beyond the cowboys and oilmen of popular imagination. Gordon-Reed is from Texas, where her family goes way back, so the book is also something of a memoir. Gordon’s straightforward prose makes the delivery of the events she’s recounting even more powerful. There’s no doubt this lawyer-historian has her facts down, even if they are facts that have been ignored or denied through most of our history. I learned a lot from this relatively short book, about Texas and America and Annette Gordon-Reed. It’s kind of like taking a college seminar with an especially gifted and generous professor. And lucky for us, no exam at the end.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, community affairs manager

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Why: If, like me prior to diving into the rabbit hole from which I have just emerged, you are only vaguely familiar with the Greek myth of Achilles and Patroclus, “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller is an excellent place to start. She tells the story from Patroclus’ point of view, from his childhood through his experience in the Trojan War. Not to give any spoilers on this 2,500+ year old tragedy, but the Trojan War does not end well for the lovers. It is a heart-wrenching tale of two people bound by fate. As storytelling goes, it is deliciously agonizing; you reach the halfway point in the book just as Achilles and Patroclus arrive at the warfront. I listened to the audiobook, so that’s another five full hours of both reader and main characters knowing what awaits them. The anguish is palpable – read it and weep, literally.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, Big Pine Key Library Branch Manager

My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand audiobook, read by the author

Why: Papa, can you hear me? Of course, you’ve been talking for over 48 hours straight, which is the duration of Barbra Streisand’s new memoir in audiobook (also available in a dictionary-sized hardcover and in eBook from the library.) Fans will be pleased, if not a little overwhelmed, by the minutia Streisand has documented with devoted precision. It can, of course, feel a little self-aggrandizing and even a little perplexing (as when Babs talks in some detail about her experiences playing the stock market). In the end, though, it’s unabashedly Streisand whose career has spanned decades and earned her the rare distinction of being an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner. She’s inimitable and she knows it, and so will you after you finish My Name is Barbra. But if you’re short on time, maybe consider Ulysses at a mere 31 hours. 

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, Assistant Director of Public Services

Rouge by Mona Awad

Why: As a fan of Mona Awad’s books, her latest novel “Rouge” did not disappoint. Like the author’s other work it brought magical realism with a touch of horror while still being relatable to young women. The novel tackles beauty standards, race and familial relationships through the lens of a daughter discovering her mother’s membership to cult-like spa. I was hooked from the first page, drawn in with a different, yet effective literary move of the use of second person narration – putting the reader directly in the main character, Belle’s, shoes. I love unlikable female protagonists and Belle becomes more and more unlikable as the story moves along. Unlike some other novels of adjacent genres, “Rouge” was not predictable. Each chapter added new, surprising elements to the plot. The world of “Rouge” is a glamorous but dark reality similar to our own which Awad carefully constructs. If you haven’t read any of Awad’s books I recommend picking up “Bunny,” which is also available here at the library, and then reading “Rouge” next. 

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Carly Neilson, library assistant, Key West Library

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Why: The backstories of scientific reasoning are female and this novel exposes this truth. Sisters, wives, and nieces all lie behind scientific achievements lauded by men as the hard work of ONLY men, but can only have been brought to fruition with the assistance of their female counterparts.  Enter Lucy Muchelney, daughter of a respected astronomer in 1816 England and fellow of the Polite Society of Science, the self-professed authority of all topics scientific. Her benefactor, Catherine, talented artist in her own right and a widow of two years, finds Lucy’s engaging intelligence and astronomical prowess intriguing and arousing in equal measure.

Where: This is available as an eBook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, library assistant, Key West Library

Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

Why: What a romp! Viola, a burnt-out real estate agent, is also a vampire. Her biggest property listing is a palatial Chicago estate, furnished with a sardonic ghost. With the ghost hell-bent on tanking the sale, Viola enlists the help of a (nearly fraudulent) medium named Fox D’Mora. Viola and Fox get drawn into a rambling mess of immortal hooligans and enter a high stakes gambling ring, overseen by Death. Strewn with sharp barbs, absurdist wit, and a torrent of miscommunication, Viola and Fox learn what it means to be truly vulnerable. This is a fun and ridiculous ride.  

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Riona Campbell, library associate, Key West Library

Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller

Why: Taxonomy is classification – in biology, it’s ordering the natural world into species, genus, family, etc. It’s a way of making sense of the vast chaos around us – and sometimes in us. DNA has shaken up the established taxonomies of some animals (so a falcon is actually more of a parrot than a hawk????) but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists were going with what they could see in front of them. David Starr Jordan was an early exemplar of the field, collecting almost 20 percent of the known species of fish at the time. Yet his rigorous work did not spare him from chaos in his own life – including some he inflicted on others. Lulu Miller’s slim work of nonfiction (the older I get, the more I’m for that) starts out as a biography of Jordan but becomes much more – a memoir, a meditation on finding your purpose in life while coping with the chaos all around us – and a little dash of true crime that’s an eye-opener on her original subject.

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, community affairs manager

Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Why: It wasn’t until I finished the book that I thought to check the release date for the sequel. There was no time; I was drawn into the story swiftly and completely. It’s a medieval-lite, magical world, featuring office culture, very slow burn romance, excellent banter, and hilarious turns of phrase. And it pairs a not-completely-evil villain with an assistant not to be underestimated. On the scale of moral grayness, he’s a charcoal and she’s a new dime, with a shiny personality to match. Now for the terrible news: the next book will not be available until September 2024. Join me in suffering while we wait!

Where: This is available as an eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, Big Pine Key Branch Manager

Being Henry: The Fonz … and Beyond by Henry Winkler

Why: Winkler’s career has been astounding, spanning multiple decades starting with the iconic role as the Fonz to his best work as the acting teacher, Gene Cousineau, in HBO’s brilliant series “Barry.. (He also had some memorable turns on “Parks and Recreation” and “Arrested Development” along the way.) Anyone would admire his career, and his memoir is consistently engaging, honest, and easygoing, though Winkler can be prickly, too, with some barbs thrown at his strict German parents, and Jeffery Katzenberg, who fired him as the director of “Turner & Hooch.” (Apparently Winkler had a better rapport with the dog than he did with Tom Hanks.) The book feels like spending an enjoyable afternoon in conversation with a living legend who can be both a little curmudgeonly while simultaneously undeniably charming.

Where: This is available in regular and large print and as an eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, assistant director of public services

The Last Word by Taylor Adams

Why: Across the long stretch of beach and yards, Emma and Deek play hangman via dry-erase boards and telescopes in their respective homes. Odd? Yes. But each enjoys their isolation. Then Emma posts a negative review of a terrible book. The author feels she’s gone too far, finding her location pushing her to retract the post. When she refuses odd things begin happening at her house, finally threatening her neighbor Deek, her dog, and her own life. The author seems to be a character from his book and he’s written so many gruesome titles. Can Emma stay off his pages?

Where: This is available in regular and large print, as an audiobook on CD and as an eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, library assistant, Key West branch

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Why: This has been the perfect winter season read, resplendent with an opinionated haunted house, exasperated heroine, and plenty of monsters, both real and supernatural. Opal carries the burden of her fractured family close to her heart. She battles her inner demons while standing up for loved ones (she might not always get it right, but she tries!). I fell in love with the characters and their struggles with smalltown Americana, its ghosts of past trauma, and the persistent yearning for real connection. Harrow is so talented at gripping your whole heart and whisking you away into a story.  

Where: This is available in regular and large print, as an eBook and as an eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Riona Campbell, library associate, Key West Library

Perilous Times by Thomas D. Lee

Why: This book has a fascinating premise – that Merlin cast a spell on some of the Knights of the Round Table that puts them in an eternal sleep instead of death. He did it so they can be called up to serve England when the realm is in peril and as a result, they’ve been present at various wars throughout history. Now a couple of them are awakened when the country is facing the existential threat of climate change, and they find themselves on different sides. This book is funny in a “Good Omens” kind of way but also deadly serious (because climate change). And a hell of an adventure tale, besides. One guarantee: You’ll never see King Arthur in quite the same way again.

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, community affairs manager

Find Me by André Aciman

Why: The film adaptation of André Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name” was such a success that fans implored Aciman for a sequel. Instead of starting at the end of the book, “Find Me” picks up a bit after the end of the film adaptation. Told in four acts, the sequel continues the story of Sam, Elio, and Oliver, vignettes told in the first person. Each contributes to an overarching and very heady philosophical discourse on the intersection of love, regret, and solitude, and the catharsis of accepting and putting words to your needs.

“Find Me” is a cautionary tale about the complacency of leading a life of quiet desperation and the bittersweet relief of getting out of your own way. My only complaint about the book is that I wish I could read it for the first time again.

Where: This is available in regular and large print, as an eBook and an eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, Big Pine Key Branch Manager

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Why: Britney Spears’ candid and compelling new memoir is strengthened in audiobook form by actress Michelle Williams’ graceful reading. It’s easy to dismiss the pop star as a lovable, naive numbskull, saddled with sadistic parents and dreadful taste in men, but there is a palpable sense of growth in The Woman in Me, and her ordeal was far more harrowing than I ever imagined. So much so that Spears just living through it all—including the insidious public debasement—seems like some kind of a miraculous feat. 

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, Assistant Director of Public Services

All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers

Why: Ashley Flowers has shifted from podcaster to novelist with this tale of small-town murder. Margot, returning to Wakarusa, Indiana to care for her ailing Uncle, hones her crime-beat reporter skills after another girl is killed within 30 miles of Wakarusa. The first was six-year-old neighbor January, 20 years earlier, the latter Natalie, a seven-year-old one town away, missing and presumed dead the month Margot got to town. Margot finds sleuthing in her hometown challenging. It seems nobody wants to solve either crime. What could be so important that her hometown would willingly cover up two murders?

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, Library Assistant, Key West Library

The Fraud by Zadie Smith

Why: I’ve always loved historical fiction so I’m delighted when some of our best writers look to the past – like Hilary Mantel, Lauren Groff and now, Zadie Smith. Her new novel is based on a real-life court case from 19th century Britain, when a working class butcher claimed to be the long-lost heir to an aristocratic fortune. His primary witness was a Black man who grew up enslaved on the family’s plantation in Jamaica.

The story is told mostly from the point of view of another real-life character, Eliza Touchet, who was the housekeeper for her cousin, William Ainsworth. He was a 19th century novelist who experienced early success but retreated into writing not-very-good historical fiction. Smith uses this cast of characters (including Ainsworth’s young working-class wife, a former housemaid he slept with and got pregnant) to explore gender, race and class – without it feeling like a sociology treatise. And it includes some excellently sly depictions of the literary scene in Victorian Britain. Charles Dickens does not come off heroically. But mostly it’s the story of a woman who, after a life serving others, takes up the question of whether she has authority to become a storyteller.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

Why: Apparently, this is considered Ms. Wharton’s masterpiece – though it seems to always take a backseat to the public’s favorite, “The Age of Innocence” – a book that Fran Lebowitz calls the perfect book.

Thank God I discovered this book. Sofia Coppola is making a miniseries of it. Whenever Ms. Coppola is on board, so am I.

The book is incredibly modern. It read like a season of the Real Housewives of New York- steamy, scandalous, and unhealthy obsession with wealth and status. The anti-heroine, Undine Spragg, paved the way for today’s supermarket tabloid vixens, and most definitely the series Dynasty, and Dallas. She is shockingly modern.

Ms. Wharton is adept at showing the depths of feeling just below the polished surface of urban life and also the concerning lack thereof. If you were a fan of the recent HBO series “The Gilded Age,” this is definitely for you.

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Jay Beasley, Library Assistant, Key West branch

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Why: Once, when my little sister was in grade school, she pointed out a red Star Trek themed baby onesie and said “That’s kind of dark.” Being the person I am, I laughed. I reasoned that at least the United Space Ship’s red-shirted crewmembers didn’t know they were destined to expire – and maybe some babies look good in red. She countered, “Yeah but we know and that’s why it’s messed up.” Now imagine my surprise years later finding a novel about “Redshirts” and what would happen if they discovered their fate. This story breaks the fourth dimension and the fourth wall in an exciting race against the clock. It’s a love letter to campy science-fiction television and very worth the read!

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, Branch Manager, Big Pine Key branch

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

Why: A place can crawl beneath your skin and become a part of you, leaving scars. LaCour weaves the story of Sara Foster and Emilie DuBois and the ways their homes of origin pull and push them back and forth. Sara moves to southern California escaping the anguish of her best friend’s death. Meeting Emilie, a romance blossoms. After Sara’s father dies, her brother moves in with her bringing a bag full of clothes, memories, and an inherited drug trade. Pulled back to her hometown Sara exists in two worlds: her anguished past and hopeful present.  

Where: This is available in print and large print, audiobook on CD, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, Library Assistant, Key West branch

Gilgamesh: A new English version translated by Stephen Mitchell

Why: This work is probably the first epic in Western literature, circa 2700 to 2000 BCE from Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). It is part myth and possibly part historical.   The fantastic journey of Gilgamesh and his mate Enkidu in search of immortality is certainly myth, but some historians have linked a real Gilgamesh as king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk (present-day city of Warka in southern Iraq). Gilgamesh symbolizes man’s vain attempt for fame, glory and immortality, themes that are repeated throughout Western literature.

In their travels, among other events, Gilgamesh and Enkidu encounter and kill the demon Humbaba, guardian of the forbidden cedar forest and fight and kill the Bull of Heaven, which enrages the gods, who kill Enkidu. Gilgamesh, heartbroken by the death of Enkidu, sets off into the wilderness to find immortality. Gilgamesh searches for Utnapishtim, a Noah-like character, who after the flood the gods grant eternal life, and Gilgamesh hopes that Utnapishtim can tell him how he might avoid death too. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that he will die, but mankind will survive. Gilgamesh returns to Uruk reconciled at last to his own mortality.  He knows that he cannot live forever but that humankind will. It should be noted that the flood narrative appears in the Hebrew Bible and that there are other connections between the two works. The epic is a quick read for a long weekend afternoon.

Where: This book is available in large print from the Monroe County Public Library system

Recommended by: Richard Richardson, Library Assistant, Big Pine Key branch


The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehin Karanatilaka

Why: Magical realism set in 1980’s Columbo amid Sri Lanka’s civil war. Maali Almeida, a gay, atheistic freelance photojournalist, is murdered and finds himself trapped in an afterlife (“the In Between”) that is by turns bureaucratic and chaotic – not unlike life in his war-torn nation. He has seven moons to find out who killed him and why – and also, to guide his living friends to a cache of photos he’s taken of various atrocities committed on both sides of the conflict. In life, he was caught between Tamil Tiger factions, government army forces, NGOs, and black market arms dealers. In death, he is torn between a youthful ghost-turned-Communist ringleader who attempts to recruit Maali for his People’s Army of the dead and a gentle spectral doctor trying to lead Maali away from earthly concerns and into the Light. His only real goal, however, is to make sure his secret photos are finally displayed to the public, in order to show the world what has happened to his beautiful and troubled country. Maali watches his lover, Dilan, and his ostensible girlfriend (in reality, his platonic lesbian friend — they provide mutual heteronormative cover for one another), Jaki, search for the photos and come to terms with his death, as he arrives at a clearer understanding of his love for both of them. Karunatilaka effortlessly blends elements of Southeast Asian mythology with the cosmopolitan crackle of 80’s urban life, making for a challenging and enjoyable read. Gritty, whimsical, funny, and sad.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Laura Bernazzoli, Library Associate, Key West Library branch


Swamp Story by Dave Barry

Why: Like his erstwhile Miami Herald colleague Carl Hiaasen, Dave Barry doesn’t have to reach too far into the fictional realm for ridiculous, hilarious scenarios in South Florida crime and capers. His latest, “Swamp Story,” takes on reality TV, social media frenzies, over-the-top children’s birthday parties and climate-obsessed national newspaper reporters – and makes it work. It feels like something of a sequel to “Big Trouble,” his 1999 fiction debut that was made into a charming movie with Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci and a young Zoey Deschanel – not the same characters for sure, but the same sensibility. If you liked that, or you’re digging the current Peacock TV show “Killing It,” you will love this. And if you like audiobooks, Barry reads it himself and even though he’s not a professional voice actor, it’s perfect.

Where: This is available as in regular and large print, audiobook on CD, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Why: This novel is a complicated narrative that gives an insider’s perspective to the ’70’s rock scene. Most bands don’t fail, they break up, and Reid’s showing her readers exactly how it happens. Loaded with plenty of drugs and the antics that accompany stardom’s excesses, readers won’t be disappointed with this book. I really felt that the mystery of inspiration and muse come through as the artistic process unfolds for the two main characters, Billy and Daisy.  But egos and passions turn this rocking boat toward the rocks too many times to count, leaving you wondering how long they can keep it all afloat.

Where: This is available as a print book, audiobook on CD, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, Library Assistant, Key West branch


A Very Typical Family by Sierra Godfrey

Why: This is a story about three siblings at odds when main character Natalie, as well as her sister and brother, are called back to their childhood home, when their mom dies. At first it’s not a good reunion. In her teens, she impulsively called the cops on her older siblings and because of that they ended up doing prison time. Also, before leaving for her childhood home, she suffers a disappointing blow, when she is passed up for a promotion at the architect firm she works at, by of all people, her boyfriend. You can’t help but feel for these three siblings and have so much hope for them to come to hopefully forgiveness with such a tragedy. And although there is so much tragedy, there is still humor and lot of love.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Eva Stafford, Cataloging Manager


Witch King by Martha Wells

Why: Best known for her Murderbot novella series, Martha Wells is a master world-builder.  Detailed, nuanced but never boring, she has created a new series involving a world with demons, witches, immortals and mortals.  We are introduced to the main character, Kai, who is as confused as we are why he is not in his body anymore.  We follow along as he acquires a new body, a new companion, and searches for his friends all while trying to figure out who killed him.  Through a series of flashbacks, we are given his history and the history of the lands surrounding him. There are plots and mysteries aplenty and while concluding the main story, the novel is set up for a sequel.  The book is well paced and Kai’s character is well developed but I look forward to more in-depth development of the supporting characters in the future.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Sue Stamper, Library Assistant, Key West branch


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Why: August, new to NY, meet-cutes a beautiful Asian woman, Jane Su, on the Q-line. Then again on the ride home and again the next day. Jane, 24, is stuck on the train and has been since 1977. Sensory triggers – a scent, a song, a kiss – reveal her past. As love blossoms and August and Jane sleuth out how to fix Jane’s stuck-on-the-train problem, a fun clown-car of friends, psychics, and an electrical engineer team up to get Jane unstuck. Will it work? Will Jane survive? Will August? I couldn’t put this one down and anxiously want a sequel! 

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, Library Assistant, Key West branch


Pageboy by Elliot Page

Why: I don’t read celebrity memoirs very often. I think I’ve read two in my entire life. This book is so well written that I would gladly read it over and over. Elliot Page tells their story in such an interesting way that I was hooked from the very first page. I’ve seen reviewers talk about how disjointed that this book was because it doesn’t necessarily follow a linear path. It didn’t bother me though, at all. It just seemed more natural that way. If you are looking for a fantastically written, attention-grabbing memoir then I think you should pick this up and give it a try.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Jill Kenna, Senior Library Assistant, Key West branch


The 2000s Made Me Gay by Grace Perry

Why: Collections of personal essays can feel self-indulgent, but as a fellow “smack-dab-in-the-middle millennial,” I devoured Grace Perry’s writings. Perry and I are the same age; we watched the same shows and read the same books. In these essays, she weaves together an autobiographical discussion of the impact pop culture had on her understanding and presentation of her own sexuality. She connects pop culture and personal experience in a way that, looking back, helps me to better appreciate the (mis)representation in movies and TV shows my LGBTQ+ friends waded through in our formative years. We are all products of the prevailing culture norms of our early lives: representations we accepted and those we eschewed. So, if you’re trying to understand millennial relationship beliefs, or if – like me – you’re a millennial trying to understand your own biases and neuroses, this book is an excellent place to start – regardless of whether the 2000s made you gay.

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, librarian, Key West branch


Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Why: Loneliness is the soul of “Remarkably Bright Creatures.” Tova wears the years of isolation in her gate, her sigh, her shoulder fall. Eyes blank, nearly blind, from the constant searching for …. him. Marcellus, the acerbic, ever attentive, equally lonely “exhibit” who, through glass and water, recognizes the isolation in Tova.  Then a fateful touch, tentacle and hand, lifts the fog of loneliness for both, taking them down a path of connection, caring, purpose, and surprise. Read this pitch-perfect allegory of the desire to supplant loneliness with connection. I dare you to not fall in love with them both.

Where: This is available as a book in print and large print, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, Library Assistant, Key West branch


Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood

Why: Romance has developed a near-infinite number of subgenres (Amish! Dinosaurs! Shifters!). My favorite might be STEMinist – books where our heroine is also a science, technology, engineering and/or math nerd. No one is doing that better than Ali Hazelwood (a neuroscientist herself in real life) and her third full-length novel is her best yet. Elsie has a PhD in physics and is scraping along as an adjunct professor at three different colleges. Jack is a professor at MIT, where she’s applying for a job. Naturally, they hate each other – especially since Elsie is fake-dating his brother as a side gig. If enemies-to-lovers with a dash of fake dating are tropes you like, this book does them exceedingly well. Along with hilarious emails from Elsie’s students, a lot of shade about academic politics and some hard truths about family dynamics.

Where: This is available as a print book and eBook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Why: Alexis Schaitkin’s debut novel has many things: immersive descriptions, intrigue, perspective shifts, and the allure of the it-could-happen-here. On the surface, this is the story of a beautiful young tourist who goes missing in a beautiful island setting, and the fallout of her disappearance and death. More gripping than that, however, is the plunging and all too real account of how grief can sneak up on tragedy survivors many years down the line and upend their lives. Our protagonist, Claire Thomas, grows up somewhat normally after her older sister’s sudden demise on a family vacation. Now that her sister has been deceased for longer than she was alive, a chance encounter pulls Claire all the way back to the events of 1996, igniting an obsession to uncover what happened. Worth the read!

Where: This is available in print and large print from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, Librarian, Key West branch


Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

Why: Does the title imply repose or deceit? Both? Molly Ringwald’s elegant translation offers a gift promised by this small package.

The regret of squandered love, the lingering nature of firsts, and the destructive impact of family. A taboo love story between two young men who share first love, but its beauty allowed to be cast away to fulfill obligations, its innocence felt once and, as a cloud, uncontrollably floats away.  It’s the knowing that he’s still out there that haunts them both and pushes this story along; one comfortable in his own skin, the other determined to eviscerate all that he is.

Where: This is available as a print book and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, Library Assistant, Key West branch.


Hi Honey, I’m Homo! by Matt Baume

Why: This is a great read for Pride month as it details the rise of LGBTQ+ characters in American sitcoms from “Bewitched” to “All in the Family” to “The Golden Girls” and “Will & Grace,” among others. Author Matt Baume details the behind-the-scenes fights with censors, networks, anti-gay protesters, and gay rights advocates. Baume smartly focuses on Network television (NBC, CBS, and ABC) and the sitcom format, showing how the evolution of recurring queer characters on popular shows eventually led to supporting characters (think Billy Crystal’s Jodie on “Soap”) and ultimately queer central characters in shows like “Ellen” and “Will & Grace.” The book makes a strong argument that the country’s perception of the LGBTQ+ community was markedly influenced by these early representations on network television and led to changing the minds of politicians, and eventually laws governing gay rights. The library offers the book in print, eBook and eAudiobook.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, Assistant Director of Public Services


Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Why: David Grann writes the kind of page-turning nonfiction that reads more like a thriller. He may be best known for “The Lost City of Z,” but this book, too, has been turned into a movie so if you’re one of those book-before-movie types, you might want to get on it. It’s a jaw-dropping story in whatever format, one of those slices of history that has been largely forgotten (except by the people who were swindled if not murdered out of their rights and inheritance). The Osage people, in the early 20th century, had already been relocated for the convenience of white settlers. But the place they were relocated to, in Oklahoma, turned out to be a rich oil reserve. You can probably guess how that played out, but the details are still incredible. Grann is an automatic read for me, but this is the book of his that has stayed with me the longest. The movie just debuted at the Cannes Film Festival but if you couldn’t make it there, it’s not scheduled for wide release until October so you’ve got time.  

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting by Kindra Neely

Why: This graphic novel deals with something that I grew up with – school shootings. I was homeschooled my whole life and one of the reasons was the violence in schools – especially the schools where I grew up in Orlando. My mom was afraid that something would happen to me at school and I can’t say that I blame her. I vividly remember watching the coverage of Columbine as it was happening. Of course I was only eight at the time so I didn’t really understand the significance of what I was watching, but looking back on it, that was the first in a long, long list of school shootings that I would watch on the news growing up.

This book follows the author, Kindra Neely, as she deals with the aftermath of surviving a school shooting in 2015. I have a hard time saying that this is a fantastic book because of what she went through, but anyone that grew up in shadow of a tragedy such as this will understand that this book is fantastic and hopefully but so sad at the same time. It was a hard one to get through, but a book that I think everyone should read.

Where: This is available as a print book (graphic novel) from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Jill Kenna, Senior Library Assistant, Key West branch


Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin

Why: This is a realistic look at daily life for a person with untreated panic disorder and major depression who longs to be helpful and connect. Anxiety can make illogical decisions seem sensible in the moment, and Austin captures the spiraling excellently. The protagonist, Gilda, struggles with maintaining relationships, a job, her environment and herself. When she accidentally lands an admin job at a Catholic church, Gilda solves her rent problem, but discovers another: fear of losing the job if they find out she is an atheist and a lesbian. None of her other illogical decisions pan out as she intended, sometimes going spectacularly poorly. The highlight of the story is her running internal monologue, which is wry, sometimes concerning, and reeks of authenticity. This novel is an excellent study in unseen struggles. Highly recommended! 

Where: This is available in print, large print, eBook and eAudiobook formats from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, librarian, Key West branch


Honey, Baby, Mine by Laura Dern

Why: The audiobook version of the new memoir, “Honey, Baby, Mine,” features the two great actors, Laura Dern and her mother, Diane Ladd, discussing the difficult and the joyous stuff of life. There are great insights about their careers, motherhood and peripheral characters like Tennessee Williams (Ladd’s cousin) and David Lynch. There’s also a lot of long-held hostility over a haircut, and a couple of family recipes because why not? I think “Honey, Baby, Mine” works extremely well as an audiobook, and can’t imagine the text (transcripts of their walk and talks) packs the same emotional punch without hearing their two voices and stunning delivery. Then again, the book does have pictures. This is a must-hear, but the library offers the book in print, eBook, eAudiobook and CD audiobook.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, Assistant Director of Public Services


One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

Why: With “One of Us Is Lying,” you’ll find a fast-paced murder mystery, brimming with high school drama and darn good writing as four detention cellmates attempt to solve a murder to save their own hides. The five-go-in-but-only-four-come-out recipe makes for a timely plot riddled with social media shenanigans playing out as the thread tying everything together.

All readers will enjoy the ride. YA writers should be given the respect that all other authors are afforded.

Give it a chance, you might be surprised.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Amy Skerly, Library Assistant, Key West branch


The Shark Whisperer by Ellen Prager

Why: If you like Percy Jackson and are interested in marine science/marine biology, grab this fantastic middle grade book. Set in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas, you are likely to recognize a few places. With lots of oceanic fun, any middle schooler reading this is bound to have a blast. And don’t forget to look out for the sequels as well! 

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Haley Kilgour, Library Assistant, Key Largo branch


Kick the Latch by Kathryn Scanlan

Why: Ms Scanlan is one of our most gifted and incredibly modern authors. You’ll read lots of reviews about her attention to detail and microprecision, blah blah blah… she specifically knows what to add and what to take away. Just like Coco Chanel saying, “Before you leave the house, take one thing off.” Ms Scanlan takes it ALL off and then adds just one thing — the perfect thing.

The book was constructed from interviews with a woman who made a name for herself by becoming a horse trainer-not a field with many women practitioners. Spare, bleak, luminous, revelatory- all the words.

Read: if you like Amy Hempel, Raymond Carver, and Denis Johnson. And haikus.

This book will take you a couple of hours to read but offers you a lifetime of remembering.

Where: This is available as an eBook from the Monroe County Library system. 

Recommended by: Jay Beasley, Library Assistant, Key West branch


My Best Friend’s Exorcism and The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires, both by Grady Hendrix

Why: I recommend both these books because the author identifies the latter as an unofficial sequel. They both take place in the same South Carolina neighborhood in the late ’80s. Common themes in these books are friendship, trusting yourself, the silencing of women’s voices to the detriment of problem solving, monsters, and the importance of working together. Both stories follow the arc of frustration, determination, and eventual resolution. “The Southern Book Club” felt like historical fiction, a frighteningly realistic view on an ’80s housewife’s concerns in and outside the home; the titular vampire isn’t the only monster in the story. “My Best Friend’s Exorcism,” on the other hand, reads like a thriller filtered through the lens of an increasingly frustrated teenager — the epilogue of which houses the most touching discussion of love in friendship I have ever personally read. Both books display the power and capacity of women put to test, without feeling like hard “anti-men” literature. A+

Where: “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is available as a print book and “The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires” is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Faith Price, librarian, Key West branch


Groundskeeping by Lee Cole

Why: Ellen Gilchrist once said that she hated teaching Creative Writing because she got tired of reading stories about depressing losers. Ms Gilchrist would hate this book. But I loved it. So did Jenna Bush Hager.  Jenna and I love books about real people struggling  in today’s America. So, yeah, depressing. Thanks, Jenna.

Lee Cole is an extremely talented young writer whose attention to detail is incredible. The plot, which I’m assuming is somewhat autobiographical, recounts the story of a young man returning home to Kentucky to save what’s left of his misspent youth Yeah, going home to live in your Grandpa’s basement — that always works. He garners a groundskeeping gig on a local small college campus in exchange for free tuition to a Creative Writing class. The rest you will just have to discover for yourself.

If you like Richard Russo, Dawn Powell, Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, and/or David Sedaris then you’ll probably vibe with Lee Cole. It IS a love story, so you have been warned. And it will end in tears. Yeah, depressing.

However, despite the book’s melancholic tone, it is absolutely worth everyone’s time to read this book. Especially if you are a Southerner who has had to return home and not wanted to … and learned that not only are we all FROM a place, we all are OF a place, whether we like or not.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Jay Beasley, Library Assistant, Key West branch


Beasts and Beauty by Soman Chainani 

Why: These short story retellings are unbelievably unique. Many of the very European-centric tales have been remastered to be diverse. Snow White is African-American, Hansel and Gretel are Indian, Belle is Chinese, just to name a few of the changes. What I loved the most was that each story did not end how we are used to. But that did not mean they did not have happy endings, just that they were different happy endings. The illustrations are also just gorgeous and have wonderfully bold and bright colors. 

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Haley Kilgour, Library Assistant, Key Largo branch


Slow Horses by Mick Herron

Why: This is the first book in a terrific, funny but still gripping espionage series, now being wonderfully adapted for TV by Apple+. The titular slow horses are disgraced MI5 agents who have been banished to a department known as Slough House (because “it might as well be in Slough”). River Cartwright is the newest arrival, possibly protected from being fired after a catastrophic training screw-up by his grandfather, who was high up in the service. Veteran spy Jackson Lamb leads the group, who are sharper than they’re given credit for (and, like River, desperate to escape exile and get back to HQ). The TV show is great, but even if you’ve seen it, the book is still worth reading for all the detail and interior character illumination that you just can’t cram into a limited tv series.

Where: This is available as a book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Why: Meddling gods? Check. Can-do, semi-unwilling hero? Check. Sarcasm out the wazoo? Check! 

Overall, a great book for children and adults. The sarcasm is well written and channels the reader a little bit. I personally found it made Percy extremely relatable and likable. The mythology aspect of the book is fantastic. Not only do you have your classically famous guys like Zeus and Poseidon, but you’ve got your lesser known myths like the Fates and Charon. The way the mythology is woven into the modern world is not only entertaining but educational. It is easy to see why this book has become a well loved read. 

Where: This is available as a print book, audiobook on CD, eBook, eAudiobook and graphic novel from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Haley Kilgour, Library Assistant, Key Largo branch


One Brilliant Flame by Joy Castro

Why: In the 19th century, Key West was the center of Cuban enterprise, exile and intrigue. The cigar industry, and the revolt against Spanish colonial rule, combined to make nearby American territory Cuban in ways that continue to reverberate today. This novel, set between the Ten Years War and the Spanish American War, focuses on a group of young Cuban-American women who are coming of age in this turbulent era. A rich cigarmaker’s daughter, a cigarmaker and the daughter of a woman who runs a boarding house are an unlikely trio of friends. Their experiences and perspectives illuminate that time in Key West in a way no history book can.

Where: This is available as a print book – and a Book Club In A Bag – from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Why: When Charlie Reed comes to the aid of the reclusive old man who lives in the “Psycho House” at the top of Sycamore Hill, he thinks he’s just helping a neighbor out. In time Charlie befriends the old man, Mr. Bowditch, and his aging German Shepherd, Radar. In true King style, the author builds a believable world in this small Illinois town, and populates it with the sort of folks you might meet in any small midwestern town. Just as you’re getting used to this world, and wondering at the mysterious background of Charlie’s new friend, a whole new world is opened up to be explored. Like many of King’s supernatural tales, Charlie’s world touches on another and when love compels him to, he finds himself on a quest to save an aging friend.  

Where: This is available in print, large print, audiobook on CD, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: James Todd, Library Assistant, Marathon Branch


Dickens and Prince: A particular kind of genius by Nick Hornby

Why: Charles Dickens was a white guy who lived in 19th century England and was famous for writing novels. Prince was a Black guy who lived in 20th and 21st century America and was famous for making music. On the face of it, they would appear to have little in common. Yet novelist and screenwriter Nick Hornby has written a lovely extended essay about how both were incredible examples of creativity and productivity. They did have a few things in common – both were raised in poverty, with family trauma shaping their lives and art. Both produced their greatest works as relatively young men. And sadly, both died at 58. This book isn’t just compare-and-contrast; it’s a readable profile of each man as an artist, with a dash of personal reflection from Hornby thrown in. And, at 159 (narrow) pages, it’s a quick read – the nonfiction equivalent of a novella. Thank you, Nick Hornby, for recognizing not every work of nonfiction has to double as a doorstop.

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, community affairs manager


Marley and Me by John Grogan

Why: Honestly, there is no physical way to hate this book … unless you are a cat person maybe. Grogan takes you on a wild ride, and not just because of the dog. This book is a much about his and his wife’s lives. And while I am sure someone is groaning “But it’s supposed to be about the dog!” it all circles back to Marley in the end. Living in South Florida, it is also fun and cool to recognize some of the places. You will cry reading this book, but only a few tears will be from sadness. 

Where: This is available as a print book (in English and Spanish) and audiobook on CD from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Haley Kilgour, Library Assistant, Key Largo branch


My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Why: “She killed him on the first strike, a jab straight to the heart. But then she stabbed him twice more to be sure. He sank to the floor. She could hear her own breathing and nothing else.” – My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A line like that is enough to grip a reader’s attention into a disturbing yet funny read of a serial killer and her sister. Set in Nigeria, My Sister, the Serial Killer follows nurse Korede and her younger sister, Ayoola, who just happens to kill her boyfriends. Korede has been left to clean up her sisters “messes” since she was 17. She fears this will be her new norm while her sister continues to be a serial killer. If you’re looking for an easy short read I would highly recommend this book.

Where: This is available as a regular and large-print book, eBook and a book club kit (which includes 10 copies) from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Patricia Blanco, Library Associate, Key West branch


Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Why: One of the better scifi TV shows of recent years is The Expanse. Even better is its source material, a series of novels by James S.A. Corey (a pen name for a pair of writers). Leviathan Wakes is the first in the series, and this is a series you should read in order. These books are good old-fashioned space operas with life-threatening interplanetary peril at every turn, even as the characters are coping with basic human questions. One of the writers formerly worked as an assistant to George R.R. Martin; like A Song of Ice And Fire, the books are built on chapters from alternating characters’ point of view. Unlike Martin, these guys managed to turn around their books in a timely manner – even after TV took an interest! – so you won’t be left hanging like we are in (book-version) Westeros.

Where: This is available as an eBook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Why: The concept of this book is wild! A school is created to protect magical students but in reality it sees many of them killed. And the name of the game is survival. Gal as a character is a bit of a conundrum. She is constantly angry, but her loneliness is of her own doing, though some of the gruff exterior melts away a little bit as she gains proper friends. I really enjoyed this book being in first person as it allowed for witty commentary and gave the reader a really nice look into who Gal was as a character. The ending was explosive and I cannot wait to read the second book. This book could be a little violent, but that is dark academia for you. 

Where: This is available as in print, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Haley Kilgour, Library Assistant, Key Largo branch


Lovely by Erik Vinson

Why: This is a beautifully written book of primarily poetry by a young local author, with some biographical paragraphs, especially in honor of the author’s late mom. 

It’s a tragic and heartbreaking story of loss of the author’s mom at the young age of three.  I’m sure many knew the author’s mom, she was a very sweet person. I felt this book was also a wonderful tribute to keep his mom’s memory alive.  Each poem is short, but all gave so much insight to the author’s life and also that of his beloved mom. 

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system

Recommended by: Eva Stafford, Cataloging Manager


Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Why: The “one last job” trope is used heavily in books and movies about criminals trying to go straight. Yet S.A. Cosby somehow makes it fresh and individual. In this book, Beauregard Montage, better known as Bug, was the best getaway driver around but has settled down as a family man and mechanic. Things happen that drive him in desperation to work with people he shouldn’t, doing things that carry huge risks to himself and those he loves. And even though this is in some ways well-driven territory, every plot twist surprised and captured me. This is kind of like Elmore Leonard (every character is irresistibly interesting) with more heart and less snark – you care so much about Bug, even when he’s making not-very-good decisions (for the best of reasons). Bonus: Cosby will be opening this year’s Friends of the Key West Library Speaker Series on Monday, Jan. 16. Go to the Friends website or Facebook page for details.

Where: This is available as a print book, eBook and eAudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Why: This novel spans over 30 years of intense friendship. Watching Sam and Sadie grow up, grow apart, and come back together over and over was a slow torture that I did not think I was going to like. The loathing that I feel for the miscommunication trope is monumental, and I thought that this whole book was just going to be that over and over again. And it was. But it was also so much more. This is a book about two friends making video games but at the same time it also isn’t about that. There is so much more than you see on the surface. The characters were compelling, frustrating, and relatable. It has been a very long time since I have loved book characters this much.

My favorite quote from the book comes from the character named Marx: “What is a game? … It’s tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s a possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption. The idea that if you keep playing, you could win. No loss is permanent, because nothing is permanent, ever.”

Where: This is available as a print book, ebook and eaudiobook from the Monroe County Library system. 

Recommended by:  Jill Kenna, Library Assistant, Key West branch


Magyk by Angie Sage

Why: This is just a wonderful fantasy book. While labeled as a kids’ book, it very easily lends itself to middle grade readers as well. Also any adult reading this with a child can easily enjoy the story too. The story is well thought out and fully develops the world and characters. There str also fantastic quirks and bits of humor throughout the book. Sage also doesn’t write in a belittling way, often using words a child might not understand but can easily figure out in context. Honestly, this is a great timeless book of magic and found family for all ages. 

Where: This is available as a print and ebook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Haley Kilgour, Library Assistant, Key Largo branch


Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Why: I read a review of this somewhere and picked it up just to see what all the fuss was about. Even Ann Patchett gave it a glowing blurb. However, it seemed like something i would never read.

Let’s just say, I was pleasantly surprised. This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in the past decade.  I became such a bore because I recommended it to every single person I met.

The plot is deceptively simple —  a study of depression and its effect on a marriage. But don’t let that deter you from reading what is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I mean, LOL funny.

I was vindicated recently reading that Sofia Coppola said that this book is the one she would most like to turn into a Netflix series.

Way to go Sofia! I always knew you had good taste.

Where: This is available as an ebook – and is on-order in print – from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Jay Beasley, Library Assistant, Key West branch


Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Why: From the visionary author of graphic novels like “The Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta,” “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and “From Hell” comes a novel of epic proportions.  Follow the the strange members of the Vernal family as they explore all the angles of time, space, and its underpinnings in the crumbling industrial city of North Hampton as it struggles into the 21st century. From the mind-expanding speech of the mysterious robed Builders, the mathematical truths of an elder fiend, the ghostly adventures of the Dead Dead Gang, and a whole gaggle of other North Hampton residents living and dead from the beginning of time to its pre-ordained end. See how all of these characters’ stories, strange and mundane alike, come together in the fiery conclusion of their fourth-dimensional existences.

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: James Todd, Library Assistant, Marathon branch


Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean

Why: This book is so much more than the biography of a dog – even though he was a very famous dog who became a star in the silent film era (he reportedly received the most votes for Best Actor in the first Academy Awards! But the Academy decided the award had to go to a person). The character lived on, in different dogs, in television shows and popular culture. But Orlean, one of the best narrative nonfiction writers working today, uses story of Rin Tin Tin as a way into a history of early 20th century America, the film industry, the way Americans view dogs. And it’s also the story of one remarkable dog, and the man who saved him as a puppy when his kennel was bombed during World War I.

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager


The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Why: This is a story about a lonely widower (he was madly in love with his wife, she died tragically of a heart attack) who hires a housekeeper/assistant to help with household duties, ends up passing away and leaves his home, in which one room is filled with huge collection of items that people lost and he found. This was such a good read, the part about finding lost items and the possibility of reuniting someone with what can be the tiniest or most insignificant thing for most, but can be real treasures for the person that lost it. Loved the connecting story of the small publishing company and the close friendships that they had. Also, the lonely widower and his assistant, and the friendships they made along the way.

Where: This is available as an e-book and large print book from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Eva Stafford, Cataloging Manager


Mythos by Stephen Fry

Why: Enjoy classic tales of the Greek gods, titans, and the mortals unlucky enough to become entangled in the lives of the immortals.  All of it filtered through the dry wit, and clever mind of British comedian, actor, and writer, Stephen Fry.  Fry lovingly retells these tales of old, warts and all.  Revealing many not-so-secret truths often cleaned up by  prudish mythographers of earlier eras.  Marvel at how these myths have continued into present-day popular culture, and how these names and tales inform many modern words, thoughts and ideas.  An entertaining romp through the ancient Greek world that will not soon be forgot.

Where: This is available as a print book (hard copy) and as an ebook and eaudiobook from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: James Todd, Library Assistant, Marathon branch


Walking Through Clear Water In A Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller

WHY: Ms. Mueller was not only an infamous downtown NYC doyenne; she was an author, an advice columnist, and a muse to John Waters. It’s been said that everyone who met her, loved her. This collection showcases her unique voice recounting her misadventures, from ALMOST meeting Charles Manson to dropping acid with Divine. Dr. Mueller (as she was also known) is kinda like David Sedaris but without all the bourgeois aspiration. Cookie Mueller’s aesthetic will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Key West before 1991. Thank God this book is here for all you Squares who will never be Cool.

Where: This book is available in print from the Monroe County Library system.

Recommended by: Jay Beasley, Library Assistant, Key West branch


Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Why: Krakauer’s survival story recounts the 1996 Mount Everest disaster and is both adventure-filled and somber. Any adventurist, novice or pro, will appreciate the preparation, dedication, and skill that it takes to summit such a formidable mountain. In the mix, Krakauer discusses the commercialism, competitiveness among the climbing groups, and unfortunately, the pollution that stains the sport and the environment that continues till this day. He also vividly describes the friendly, helpful, and soulful Nepalese that guide many of these adventurers on their journey. It’s a riveting story set amongst one of the most scenic, dangerous, and awe-inspiring natural creations.

Where: This is available as a print book and as an ebook from the Monroe County Public Library system.

Recommended by: Rob Rinaldi, Branch Manager, Big Pine Key branch


The Crossing Places: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths

Why: This is the first book in the Ruth Galloway crime fiction series, which is now up to 14 books. They’re set in Norfolk, England. Ruth is a forensic archaeology professor who works with the police. She’s a smart, practical woman who winds up having a surprisingly complicated love life. The series hits the sweet spot between cozy mysteries and harder-core crime writing – and character is key. Ruth herself, the main detective she works with and the other recurring characters are all interesting, funny and well-drawn. If you like Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series or Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels, you might like this series. 

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Library system – several other books in the series are also available as audiobooks on CD and/or ebooks. 

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, Community Affairs Manager