Top Staff Picks - December 2023

Welcome to this month's Staff Picks page, where our librarians share some of the great books they've read recently. Discover hidden gems, popular titles, and diverse recommendations that will captivate your imagination and enrich your reading experience. Happy exploring!


Standing by the Wall by Mick Herron

Espionage. Subterfuge. Blackmail. Mystery. Humor. Revenge. Failure. Success. All this and more in a tight package of five novellas by Mick Herron, author of the Slough House novels, the books that inspired Slow Horses from Apple TV+. For fans new and old, Standing by the Wall is both an excellent introduction to the extended literary universe of Mick Herron and an immersive expansion of said universe. Meet more bad spies and even worse detectives. Race against time to solve mysteries with no easy conclusion. And understand the origins of Jackson Lamb, Mick Herron's most enigmatic, controversial character. The five novellas in this collection-including one never-before-published look into the past of Slough House-show Mick Herron as the undisputed master of the modern spy narrative, staying true to the classics of the genre while updating the form for a whole new generation of espionage readers.

What you are looking for is in the library by Michiko Aoyama

Sayuri Komachi is no ordinary librarian. Sensing exactly what someone is searching for in life, she provides just the book recommendation to help them find it. In this uplifting book, we meet five of Sayuri's customers, each at a different crossroads - the restless retail assistant eager to pick up new skills - the mother faced with a demotion at work after maternity leave - the conscientious accountant who yearns to open an antique store - the gifted young manga artist in search of motivation - the recently retired salaryman on a quest for newfound purpose. Can she help them find what they are looking for?

We’re All Made of Lightning by Khadro Mohamed

Khadro Mohamed expertly navigates the experience of being a Muslim women in Aotearoa, bringing us along on her journey of selfhood. Shifting between Aotearoa, Egypt and Somalia, we get a glimpse into her worlds, which are rich and full of life. Mohamed has a sense of wonder for the world around her, exploring nature, food, family and identity. This book is a love letter to her homeland, her whakapapa, and herself.

No Other Place to Stand: An Anthology of Climate Change Poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand by Jordan Hamel, Mars

Ninety-one writers with connections to these islands grapple with the biggest issue facing people and the planet.

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

On a June morning in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway is preparing for a party and remembering her past. Elsewhere in London, Septimus Smith is suffering from shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Their days interweave and their lives converge as the party reaches its glittering climax. Here, Virginia Woolf perfected the interior monologue and the novel's lyricism and accessibility have made it one of her most popular works.


Courtiers : the hidden power behind the crown by Valentine Low

Who advises the royal family, what influence do they have and how have they shaped history? Throughout history, the British monarchy has relied on its courtiers - the trusted advisers in the King or Queen's inner circle - to ensure its survival as a family, an ancient institution, and a pillar of the constitution. Today, as ever, a vast team of people hidden from view steers the royal family's path between public duty and private life. The Queen, after a remarkable 70 years of service, is entering the final seasons of her reign without her husband Philip to guide her. Meanwhile, Charles seeks to define what his future as King will be, with his court wielding ever greater influence as he plans for his imminent accession. The question of who is entrusted to guide the royals has never been more vital, and yet the task those courtiers face has never been more challenging. With a cloud hanging over Prince Andrew as well as Harry and Meghan's departure from royal life, the complex relationship between modern courtiers and royal principals has been exposed to global scrutiny. William and Kate - equipped with a very 21st century approach to press and public relations - now hold the responsibility of making an ancient institution relevant for the decades to come. Courtiers reveals an ever-changing system of complex characters, shifting values and ideas over what the future of the institution should be. This is the story of how the monarchy really works, at a pivotal moment in its history.

Hunting Ghislaine by John Sweeney

Once upon a time there was a beautiful and clever princess who suffered a terrible tragedy, the death of her father, a war hero, a philanthropist, a good man, in suspicious circumstances. She survived, then fled to New York where she made a new life with a brilliant mathematician. Her name is Ghislaine Maxwell and his was Jeffrey Epstein. Through Jeffrey, and her family name, Ghislaine became friends with some of the most powerful people on earth, ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and the second son of the Queen of England, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. But this is no fairy tale. Hunting Ghislaine sets out the other side of the story, and it's one of the darkest you will ever read. Ghislaine's father, Robert Maxwell, was a monster, a war criminal, a bully, a fraud, and a sadist. His cruelty deformed Ghislaine Maxwell long before she met Jeffrey Epstein, who later was convicted for being a paedophile. And thus, her life has been spent serving not one monster but two ... investigative journalist John Sweeney uncovers the truth behind this fairy tale story in reverse.

Attached: Are You Anxious, Avoidant Or Secure? How the Science of Adult Attachment Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Amir Levine

Is there a science to love? Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory - the most advanced relationship science in existence today - can help us find and sustain love. Attachment theory forms the basis for many bestselling books on the parent/child relationship, but there has yet to be an accessible guide to what this fascinating science has to tell us about adult romantic relationships - until now. Attached guides readers in determining what attachment style they and their mate (or potential mates) follow. It also offers readers a wealth of advice on how to navigate their relationships more wisely given their attachment style and that of their partner. An insightful look at the science behind love, Attached offers readers a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections.

Snow Widows by Katherine MacInnes

In the middle of a moonless night in 1913, the Terra Nova steams silently into Oamaru harbour in New Zealand. The men aboard have a desperate mission-- they must reach the relatives of Scott's South Pole expedition before the morning papers break the news that the whole party have perished. Robert Falcon Scott and the men of his polar expedition were heroes of their age, enduring tremendous hardships to further the reputation of the empire they served. But they were also husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. Now for the first time, and with unprecedented access to family archives, Katherine MacInnes retells the story of the race for the South Pole from the perspective of the women whose lives would be forever changed by it, five women who offer a window into a lost age. Kathleen Scott, the fierce young wife of the expedition leader campaigned relentlessly for Scott's reputation, but did her ambition for glory drive her husband to take unnecessary risks? Oriana Wilson, a true help-mate and partner to the expedition's doctor, was a scientific mind in her own right and understood more than most what the men faced in Antarctica. 'Empire' Emily Bowers had already survived more than many, having fled the burning of Perak in the third Anglo-Burmese war. She and her son Birdie were 'more than just mother and son', they were firm friends. The indomitable Caroline Oates was the very picture of decorum and everything an Edwardian woman aspired to be, but she came to openly snub the king's invitations to celebrate the expedition and the man who 'killed [her] son'. Lois Evans led a harder life than the other women, constantly on the edge of poverty and forced to endure the media's classist assertions that her husband, the sole 'Jack Tar' in a band of officers, must have been responsible for the party's downfall. Lois didn't leave the copious letters and diaries her upperclass counterparts did, so her part of the story has been reconstructed through archival research, and is shared here for the first time. In a remarkable feat of historical reconstruction and with a gripping narrative voice, Katherine MacInnes vividly depicts the lives, loves and losses of five women forced into the public eye by tragedy and shaped by the unrelenting culture of empire.

So when are you having kids? by Jordan Davidson

A new kind of family planning book for the millennial and Gen Z generations, offering inclusive guidance on the realities of parenthood.

Graphic Novels

Lightfall, Book one: the girl and the Galdurian by Tim Probert

Deep in the heart of the planet Irpa stands the Salty Pig's House of Tonics & Tinctures, home of the wise Pig Wizard and his adopted granddaughter, Bea. As keepers of the Endless Flame, they live a quiet and peaceful life, crafting medicines and potions for the people of their once-prosperous world. All that changes one day when, while walking through the woods, Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, an ancient race thought to be long-extinct. Cad believes that if anyone can help him find his missing people, it's the Pig Wizard. But when the two arrive home, the Pig Wizard is nowhere to be found--all that's left is the Jar of Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Fearing for the Pig Wizard's safety, Bea and Cad set out across Irpa to find him, while danger fights its way out of the shadows and into the light.


The Moth Keeper by Kay O’Neill

Kit is excited to prove her worth as a Moth-Keeper, a protector of the lunar moths that allow the Night-Lily flower to bloom once a year, but she quickly finds that life as a Moth-Keeper is not what she imagined it would be.