Your Library Curated: Best New Books

In order to highlight some of the best and newest additions to the Jacksonville Public Library’s collection, the blog will have a regular curation of mini book reviews.  If you’re interested in any of these titles, stop in or give us a call!

  • “I’d Die for You” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anne Margaret Daniel:  This is a new collection of Fitzgerald’s previously unpublished or uncollected short stories.  Not every story is destined to become a new classic.  However, each story gives readers insight into the famed author’s psyche while trying to produce new work.

I'd die for you

  • “Anything Is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout:  As with other works by Strout, it’s hard to quite tell if this is a novel or a collection of short stories.  Either way, each chapter or story is connected by common themes.  Strout’s newest book is well-written and examines ideas like class (as in working-class etc.), insecurity, and forgiveness.  Don’t miss out!

anything is possible

  • “The Pearl Thief” by Elizabeth Wein:  I am reviewing a novel for young adults because both adults and teens alike enjoy reading them.  This book is published by the same author as Code Name Verity.  However, you do not need to read the previously published novel to understand and enjoy this new one.  It’s both a murder mystery and a coming-of-age story.  The thing I loved most about this book was the main character–she’s witty and real.

pearl thief

  • “House of Names” by Colm Toibin:  This book is quite tragic… Characters are thrown into dungeons and the amount of violence that occurs is quite staggering.  However, the violence isn’t gratuitous.  With Toibin’s adept writing, the characters are alive with depth.  This book doesn’t quite seem like Toibin’s other work, but it is a great book on its own.  I was sitting on the edge of my seat as I turned every page.

house of names

  • “The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore:  This book is all about workers’ rights.  The women Moore writes about died from the radium they were exposed to while working for dial-making factories.  The women’s lives were painful and tragic, but their legacy has paved the way for the protection of workers today.

radium girls

  • “The American Spirit” by David McCullough:  This collection of speeches is tied together by the theme of history.  McCullough is synonymous with expert as he has won 2 Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his previous work.  These speeches instill a much-needed hope at a time of unrest on both sides of the aisle.

american spirit

  • “Shattered” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes:  This book explores the ins and outs of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president.  Ultimately, it looks at what went wrong and tries to make sense of Clinton’s shocking loss last November.  This book is the first word on 2016, but it most certainly will not be the last. shattered
  • “The Shadow Land” by Elizabeth Kostova:  In Kostova’s third novel, she returns to Eastern Europe–Bulgaria.  The author  has spent much time in this country as this is where she met her husband.  The novel starts in 2008 with the main character teaching English in a new country and quickly turns into a mystery to figure out the life of a man named Stoyan Lazarov.  Kostova has managed to make another masterpiece so check it out today!      shadow land
  • “The Upside of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli:  This new young adult  novel explores all the challenges and beauty that comes with new love.  This book is super fun with a cast of characters that will keep you entertained.  Try this one out for a summer beach read!

upside of unrequited

  • “Richard Nixon” by John A. Farrell:  This biography turns Richard Nixon into a human with depth and feelings.  However, it doesn’t let Nixon off the hook for the corruption of his presidency.  The book also brings previously unknown details to light from diaries and reports that were recently discovered.  If you’ve ever been curious about Nixon, the man, this book is for you.richard nixon


The Best Cult Novels at Your Public Library

What is a cult novel?  A cult novel is one in which a rabid group of fans swears it’s the best book of all time.  I’m sure there are better definitions, but that’s what I’m going with.

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger:  Everyone knows this classic, but it used to be super underground in the 50s.  In fact, it used to be the most banned book of all time after it caught on with the youth!catcher in the rye
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac:  Reviewers around the time this book was published weren’t too keen on this novel, but it has become an essential book for those who like to wander a little bit more than average.on the road
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole:  Sadly, our culture tends to revere authors and other artists when they die too soon or before their work becomes famous.  That’s the case with this novel.  There are a huge number of cult fans who will swear this is the funniest book they’ve ever read.

confederacy of dunces

  • Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis:  Another funny one!  A cult novel written by a cult author about a cult!

masters of atlantis

  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse:  Thinking about travelling to the Himalayas?  You should probably read this book.


  • Dune by Frank Herbert:  This book has the most intense fan-base I’ve ever seen.  If you haven’t read this amazing piece of science-fiction, I’m here to tell you that you probably should.


  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein:  The main character was raised by aliens. Need I say more?  Oh, it has also been very influential in the realm of science-fiction.


  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt:  Teenagers love this book because it follows around a group of college students–it’s both successful and culty (is that a word?).

secret history

  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski:  A lot of people hate this book with extreme passion, but a lot of people also really love it.  This is one of those books that had a cult following online before it was officially published in print.  The mystery, as well as the stark differences in opinion regarding its literary merit, will make this a cult novel for years to come.

house of leaves

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig:  This book was rejected by more publishers than any other bestseller.  While this book is kind of kitschy at this point, it is still incredibly popular.

zen and the art of

jimmy corrigan

  • Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski:  Everything Bukowski has ever done is culty.  I personally think his work can be hard to get into, but not everyone agrees.

ham on rye

  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card:  While there have been questions about the author’s homophobia, many fans still champion this book quite fervently.

ender's game

  • Fear of Flying by Erica Jong:  A coming-of-age story for the ages…

fear of flying


  • Generation X by Douglas Coupland:  This novel is responsible for coining its namesake.  What do people born after 1960 think?  I don’t know; read this book.

generation x

  • The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk:  The first book by Pamuk where we really get to witness his chops as an author.

black book

  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace:  Everyone I’ve every known that has read this book likes to act like they’re better than the people who have not read it.  Ah well.

infinite jest

  • Kindred by Octavia Butler:  Everyone who reads this author falls in love with her!


why did I ever

  • Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann:  This novel is seen as the ‘girl’s’ version of Catcher in the Rye and was self-published before it was picked up by Random House years later.  Sounds like the makings of a cult novel!

anthropology of an american girl


All of these books are available at the Jacksonville Public Library.  Let us know if you’re interested in any of them.