Benedictine Library Staff: Favorite Books

Benedictine Library Staff Favorite Books Spring 2015

Looking for a good read?  During National Library Week (April 12-18) please visit the Library Favorites display on the 3rd floor of Kindlon Hall to browse some of the library staff’s favorite books.

What are your favorite books?

We invite you to add your favorite books (all-time favorites or something you’ve enjoyed recently) to our list by adding a comment at the end of this blog post or on Facebook or Twitter.

Here are some library staff favorites

Stephanie Brand: Student Worker
My favorite book is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I read the first book of the series in high school and was more involved in it than any other book I have ever read before.

Emily Burns: Student Worker
Here are my picks:

  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    The reason why I love this book is because it is different from the average novel. It reveals a true look into growing up. It’s depressing at times but overall is a great story. I loved the movie too!
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
    She is one my favorite authors because she writes in flashbacks. It’s awesome and intriguing how the book comes together at the end. It was the first book I read from her and ever since then, I was hooked.
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
    This book is probably one of the best books to read if you are a dog lover. It is writer from the dogs perspective and absolutely a great feel good story. It was definitely a different switch from your everyday novel, which is why I loved it so much.

Kent Carrico: Business Outreach Librarian
This is what interests me now and is usually some form of history. A couple of sources:

Why? American history is a complex narrative that demands multiple retellings contextually in order to have a balanced understanding of where we came from and where we might be going culturally and as a nation. The books I am exploring take an indigenous perspective to the understanding of what price was paid along the path to the United States as we imagine it in the 21st century. The idea of America as a colonial power taking from the local inhabitants what it wanted – and in a most violent manner – is hard to swallow for contemporary persons but must be understood to fully appreciate how greed and ideology can subvert the common good and morale superiority we claim as a nation today.

Pamm Collebrusco: Public Services Librarian – Access, Springfield Campus
My favorite book is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini because of all the different issues involved: caste, religion, family, violence vs peace, history.

My favorite recent book is: Loose Change by Sara Davidson (request on ILL). It is about 3 women and how they grew up in the 60s-70s. It gave me a window into the whole sixties scene so I could look in—their experiences did not match mine!

Michael Diakoumis: Circulation Manager
My favorite book series is A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.
They are the books that the TV show Game of Thrones is based off of. I enjoy them because it combines the magnificent terrors of a fantasy world while dealing with real and believable human emotion.

Recently, I have been reading The Legend of Drizzt (request on ILL) series by R.A. Salvatore. It is a fantasy series about a dark elf named Drizzt who exiled himself from the evil society in which he was raised and his search for a life among benevolent civilizations that will not accept him because of his naturally evil heritage.

Eric Edwards: Public Services Librarian – Reference, Springfield Campus
Favorite Book of All Time:

Kingdoms of Europe: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ruling Monarchs from Ancient Times to the Present, by Gene Gurney
When I read this book growing up, it came across as a list of kings and queens, a chronology of reigns and battles, and a history of the rise and fall of various kingdoms. Looking at it now, I’ve come to realize that, even though rulers centuries ago may have used swords instead of guns and word-of-mouth instead of the Internet, their egos and foibles, dreams and follies, really aren’t much different, if at all, from those of modern-day politicians and dictators.

Favorite Books That I Have Read Recently

  • The Journey from Eden: The Peopling of Our World, by Brian Fagan
    Fagan makes the prehistory of the human species more than just a collection of bones, stone and flint tools, and the occasional cave painting or figurine. In chronicling the migration of humanity from Africa to all corners of the globe, he vividly describes the environmental challenges that our ancestors faced as they braved ice ages, towering mountain ranges, and endless deserts. The ways in which prehistoric humans overcame these obstacles laid the foundation for the rich cultural, social, and intellectual life that humanity enjoys today, which makes these long-ago travels all the more relevant.
  • Evolution, by Stephen Baxter
    Many authors have written fictional accounts of the lives of prehistoric humans. Too many times, however, those stories don’t really make an effort to “get inside the heads” of early modern humans or their hominid ancestors, in order to view the world with a mind that, while fundamentally not that much different from ours, still didn’t approach problems or invent solutions in quite the same manner. Noted British science-fiction author Baxter goes a step further, however, telling the story of our species from the perspectives of not just our pre-human ancestors, but our mammalian progenitors tens of millions of years ago. He also poses a scenario for the future in which humanity’s role as the dominant species on the planet comes to a sudden end (beginning just 16 years from now, in 2031!), due to overpopulation and environmental stress. This book, while a bit on the pessimistic side in portraying the downside of human nature, is a sober reminder that, for all of its smarts and stunning accomplishments compared to other species, humanity is still just another player in a much larger natural world and is subject to the same forces that imperil the existence of other forms of life on this planet.

Jack Fritts: University Librarian
Multiple choices today:

In each case, the author’s style makes the reader care about the primary characters.

Other things I’m reading right now include several books and articles on people and politics in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, a scholarly look at the first Christmas (a comparison of the story as presented by Matthew and Luke), and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction. Each of these could be considered favorite since each answers a question or a curiosity that crossed my mind at some moment. The Elizabethan materials also serve another purpose by helping me become steeped in a period and a culture that I will need to know.

Fran Gilles: Evening / Weekend Reference Librarian
One of my favorite authors is Laurie R. King who writes the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. Her newest, which I am reading now, is Dreaming Spies. The first book in the series is The Beekeeper’s Apprentice,  which introduces Mary Russell as an orphaned teen meeting Sherlock Holmes as an “older man” who keeps bees in the English countryside. She becomes his apprentice and years later they marry. In between all the adventures, she is studying at Oxford. Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, sends them to “fix” problems for England all over the world. The series is lively and interesting with plots in England, Morocco, Israel, India, California and now Japan. They all take place around the 1920s.

Joan Hopkins: Instruction Librarian
I have so many favorite books, but among the ones I love most are the lives of the saints. Their stories of faith and courage never fail to fascinate and inspire me. Among my favorites are:

  • Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi
    Just from the well-worn appearance of this book, you can tell it one of the favorites in my personal library. The book contains brief, beautifully written profiles of hundreds of saints. It is called “voices” because each profile features a quotation from the writing of the saint or an excerpt from a knowledgeable biographer. The various indices allow one to access the volume in a variety of rich and interesting ways.
  • My Life with the Saints by James Martin, S.J.
    In this memoir, Fr. Martin introduces us to some of the unique holy men and women he considers his spiritual companions. He portrays them as fascinating individuals who shared the same struggles, foibles, and difficulties we face in our daily lives and shows how he looked to them throughout his life for friendship, consolation and encouragement along the way.
  • My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carol Campbell
    This former White House speech writer tells how the stories of six women saints profoundly changed her life: Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, Faustina of Poland, Edith Stein of Germany, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Mary of Nazareth.

Cynthia Kremer: Science Outreach Librarian
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book because even though it was published in 1813, I can relate to the characters and subtle humor in the story. The heroine is a strong self-determined woman who acts on her own judgment despite living in a society that had a distinct class system and gender roles.

Mark Kroll: Cataloging Librarian

  • Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon
    The best travel book I have ever read! Heat-Moon’s first book (and still his best, by far) captures the spirit of the country so well through his description of the people and places he encountered on the back roads of America.
  • Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis.
    My favorite biography, and how wonderful that it is an autobiography – no one else’s prose could match Lewis’s in telling his story.
  • The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz
    Written by the late Bishop of Gothenburg, this novel is a beautiful illustration of God’s action in human lives over several generations, as seen through the spiritual struggles, failures, and triumphs of a fictional parish in Sweden.


  • Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World by Daniel Hannan
    The author’s contention, for which he makes a very solid case, is that the rule of law, representative government, security of property, and the like, are not generically Western achievements, but arose specifically in England, and to this day are best exemplified in the Anglosphere nations.
  • Darwin’s Doubt:The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer
    A well-researched argument for the idea that the sudden appearance of many and various forms of animal life during the Cambrian period, along with the vast amount of encoded biological information necessary to produce and sustain them, raises grave doubts about the possibility that such creatures could have arisen through undirected processes.

Sarah Kurpiel: Emerging Technologies Librarian
My favorite book is My Antonia by Willa Cather
because I can’t get over Cather’s descriptions of the land.

Of the books I’ve read recently, my favorite is Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. It reads like verse. She writes in first person plural, and the effect is haunting.

Silvia Larrondo: Access Services Librarian
I have many favorites books but the one that I really like is one of the great classics The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.  I liked it because it includes all type of experiences that we faced and from which we learned, good or bad: hope, justice, friendship, forgiveness, romance, revenge, loyalty, etc., etc.

When I want to read something to learn a lot a read different stories too from The Bible. It has great stories about justice, revenge, etc.

I have read several book recently  such as: Maya’s Notebook, Ines of My Soul, The Stories of Eva Luna and others by Isabel Allende. The Rembrandt AffairThe Kill ArtistThe English GirlPortrait of a SpyThe Confessor  by Daniel Silvia.

Also I enjoyed The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Tim Lindquist: Student Worker
My favorite book is  A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.

I like this book because I enjoy reading poetry and I think that some of the poems in this book are funny. I always enjoy a good laugh. I also like the fact that the format of poetry is usually not restricted. I found the poems in this book easy to read and very enjoyable.

Mary Ocasek: Head of Public Services
Some of my favorites are:

  • Fifth Business by Robertson Davies.
    I love it because it is a study of good and evil from a Jungian point of view.

I also loved:

  • Shame and the Captives by Thomas Keneally.
    It is a new book about a prison camp in Australia during the 2nd World War.
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
    I was amazed by the difference one brilliant man can make to help the world.

My last choice is:

Regina Remson: Library Administrative Support Assistant
The Little Red Hen is one of my favorite books.

Elizabeth Rodriguez: Student Worker
My favorite book is Are you my Mother?

When I was barely learning how to read, I kept that book in the car and every time we went somewhere I would read it to my mom over and over until the car ride was over. It was the first time I enjoyed reading and didn’t see it as a chore.

Debbie Sarna: Copy Cataloger
I don’t have an all time favorite book, but the best book I’ve read lately is Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. It is historical fiction, based on actual events and is a heartfelt story with lovable characters.

Katy Scullin: Digital Archivist
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

I actually hated this book when I read it for the first time in high school, but when I read it again for a class in college it spoke to me in a way that few books have. Hemingway beautifully expresses the pain of being aimless in life and alone among friends. And despite his reputation for machismo and even misogyny, I believe that Lady Brett Ashley is one of the most sympathetic and heartbreaking female characters in all of modern literature.

The Magicians by  Lev Grossman

This book will appeal to those of us who grew up with The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter and never quite got over those worlds. The main character is Quentin Coldwater, a young man preparing for college who is disappointed with what the world has to offer—he still wishes that the world was as exciting and magical as the ones he had read about as a child. Then…he gets his wish, but finds out that magic and adventure don’t make life better, only different.

Josh Urban: Student Worker
My favorite books are

These books have fascinating stories and writing styles which draw you in and force you to connect with the main character.

Amy Weidner: Digital Resources Librarian
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

My favorite part about Frankenstein is the story behind the book: how Ms. Shelley was writing it as a competition to tell the scariest story, and that the competition was against her husband, the great poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron. I agree with many that Frankenstein is the _first_ Science Fiction book, and I am also a big fan of the Gothic genre and all things horror. I love the campy works that have spun off of her original writing (i.e. The Bride of Frankenstein), especially the most recent incarnation of the Frankenstein character in the Showtime series Penny Dreadful.

Julie Wroblewski: Archives & Special Collections Librarian
Middlemarch by George Eliot.

Beautiful writing, complex characters, and fascinating story lines about love, hate, class, coming of age, aging, power, and politics. I read this every few years and always find something new that speaks to me.

Recent favorite:

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.
A creative and beautifully written story about environmental devastation on Earth, making contact with alien civilization, and personal conviction in the face of challenges, and religious faith. It’s sci fi meets Victorian novel in terms of style and scope. One of the most original and engrossing things I’ve read in quite some time.

What are your favorite books?

Once again, we invite you to add your favorite books (all-time favorites or something you’ve enjoyed recently) to our list by adding a comment at the end of this blog post or on Facebook or Twitter.


2 thoughts on “Benedictine Library Staff: Favorite Books”

  1. I really enjoyed reading about everyone’s selections! Gave me some ideas of what to suggest for my book club and what to read for myself. Thank you for sharing your books and thoughts.

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