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Champlin Library Staff's Book Lists
Titles That Grab You and Never Let You Go (30 titles)
Some titles just seem to stop you in your tracks and demand to be read. This list is comment - free, so you can see which titles grab you!
Happy Birthday, Shakespeare: Movies (14 titles)
In honor of Shakespeare's 450th birthday, we have put together a list of some of the best film versions of his work. As with the book list, some of the titles are works that were inspired by Shakespeare and his writings.
Happy Birthday, Shakespeare! (22 titles)
In honor of the Bard's 450th birthday, we have put together a list of his works, and some of the many works inspired by his plays and his life. This list includes material for kids and adults. Also see Happy Birthday, Shakespeare: Movies for film versions of Shakespeare's work.
Not Just Superheroes: Graphic Novels (32 titles)

Nonfiction We Couldn't Put Down (25 titles)

Show all 12 booklists by Champlin Library Staff

Champlin Library Staff's Comments    
Cover Art84, Charing Cross Road.
by Hanff, Helene.
In 1949, American writer Helene Hanff wrote to Frank Doel, an employee of British bookstore Marks & Co., looking for secondhand books. Their correspondence would blossom into a friendship that lasted 20 years. The warm, witty letters are collected here, giving the reader a bird's eye view of their relationship as they discussed books, life in postwar London, and their changing cultures. Though 84, Charing Cross Road was also made into a play and a wonderful movie with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, it is the book that best conveys the charm, kindness and zest of the writers. There aren't enough good things to say about this book!   posted Aug 29, 2014 at 3:39PM

Cover ArtThe Eyre affair : a novel
by Fforde, Jasper.
The term "genrebending" was invented for this delightful book! In an alternate 1980s England, literature is the main component of popular culture, writers are idolized (people change their names to that of their favorite writer), and it is possible for fictional characters and the real world to interact. When a villain threatens to hold great works of literature hostage, it is up to Thursday Next to save the day! At once a mystery, brilliant work of science fiction, and a love letter to literature, The Eyre Affair is a completely unique, howlingly funny book.   posted Aug 29, 2014 at 3:22PM

Cover ArtOne for the books
by Queenan, Joe.
Humorist Joe Queenan takes a sometimes sarcastic, always affectionate look at the life of the reader. Whether discussing the importance of having a bookstore in his hometown, the fact that he's always the last person to read the "in" book, or calculating the number of books he could read in his lifetime, Queenan never fails to make readers laugh and think.   posted Aug 29, 2014 at 1:01PM

Cover ArtReading in bed : personal essays on the glories of reading
Writers as diverse and prodigiously talented as Marcel Proust, Clifton Fadiman , Michel de Montaigne and Vladimir Nabokov all discuss the aspects of the experience and importance of reading. Fadiman's "Reading in Bed" is an especially warm and enjoyable essay.   posted Aug 29, 2014 at 12:59PM

Cover ArtSo many books, so little time : a year of passionate reading
by Nelson, Sara, 1956-
How do the books we read fit in with all the other parts of our lives? That was the question Sara Nelson set out to answer. Her plan was to read one pre-selected book a week for one year. As it turns out, though, books find the reader as often as the reader finds the books. Funny and intelligent, So Many Books, So Little Time is a great book that is guaranteed to send readers looking for the books Nelson finds!   posted Aug 29, 2014 at 10:04AM

Cover ArtSixpence House : lost in a town of books
by Collins, Paul, 1969-
What would life be like in a town famous for its bookstores? Paul Collins, along with his wife and young son, find out when they move from California to Hay-on-Wye, Wales in this charming memoir. As he begins work in one of Hay-on-Wye's 40 used bookstores, and attempts to buy an affordable house that isn't falling down, Collins shares details about the wonderful obscure books he comes across, and muses on the place books have in our livess.   posted Aug 27, 2014 at 5:01PM

Cover ArtThe thirteenth tale : a novel
by Setterfield, Diane.
Diane Setterfield's debut novel is a beautiful tale of the power that stories have to comfort us and define our lives. Young biographer Margaret Lea is summoned to write the life story of legendary writer Vida Winter, but is the strange story she tells of twins raised in an English manor true? This is an engrossing, gothic tale that is almost impossible to put down.   posted Aug 27, 2014 at 4:50PM

Cover ArtHothouse : the art of survival and the survival of art at America's most celebra
by Kachka, Boris
A fascinating read that chronicles the history of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, the publishing house which has published the most Nobel laureates ever. Boris Kachka not only recounts the unlikely partnership of the firm's founders, Roger Straus and Robert Giroux, he also tells the story of the famous authors whose works they published, such as Susan Sontag and Tom Wolfe, and the era that shaped them all. Peopled with larger - than - life characters, it really does read like a novel!   posted Aug 27, 2014 at 4:30PM

Cover ArtThe Jane Austen book club
by Fowler, Karen Joy.
Five women and one man find that their lives begin to imitate the art of the Jane Austen novels they are reading in this clever novel. The plot may sound formulaic, but the beautifully drawn characters lift this book above all the other homages to Jane Austen: it is a worthy read in its own right.   posted Aug 25, 2014 at 5:00PM

Cover ArtLost in a good book : a novel
by Fforde, Jasper.
Second in the Thursday Next series. Fforde takes his inspired lunacy to a new level in this book!   posted Aug 8, 2014 at 4:41PM

Cover ArtRead this! : handpicked favorites from America's indie booksellers
This is the book for anyone who is looking for their next book to read! This book, edited by an employee of the Twin Cities' own Micawber's Books, is full of diverse recommendations   posted Jul 15, 2014 at 6:58PM

Cover ArtThe fantastic flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
by Joyce, William, 1957-
This gorgeous picture book was turned into an Academy Award - winning short film.   posted Jun 25, 2014 at 2:28PM

Cover ArtThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Shaffer, Mary Ann.
A wonderful, heartwarming read, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society highlights the ways books can comfort and connect people in very hard times. A writer in postwar London corresponds with a circle of friends in the Channel Islands, learning about the ways they coped with the Nazi occupation.   posted May 6, 2014 at 3:46PM

Cover ArtThe uncommon reader
by Bennett, Alan, 1934-
The Queen of England discovers the pleasures of reading, and chaos ensues, in a highly British manner. A very fun, witty read.   posted May 5, 2014 at 12:58PM

Cover ArtWill in the world : how Shakespeare became Shakespeare
by Greenblatt, Stephen, 1943-
Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Greenblatt creates a deep, breathtakingly vivid portrait of Shakespeare by analyzing his words and connecting them to the events of the day. This is not only an incredibly insightful biography, it is also a glimpse into the intense, complicated world of Elizabethan England, and and a magnificently accessible window into Shakespeare's plays.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 6:26PM

Cover ArtThe story of Edgar Sawtelle : a novel
by Wroblewski, David.
A retelling of Hamlet, set in rural Wisconsin. A very beautiful story.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 6:25PM

Cover ArtThe tempest
by Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
Shakespeare's last play.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 6:20PM

Cover ArtA thousand acres
by Smiley, Jane
King Lear, set on a farm in modern day Iowa. A Pulitzer Prize winner.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 6:20PM

Cover ArtJulie and Romeo : a novel
by Ray, Jeanne.
Romeo and Julie re a pair of middle aged florists from competing shops who fall in love. A very sweet novel!   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 6:18PM

Cover ArtPlaying Shakespeare. Volume 1 [videorecording]
In this series, great Shakespearean actors such as Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian Mckellan, and Sir Ben Kingsley participate in a discussion of Elizabethan theater with other members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Fascinating!   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 6:16PM

Cover ArtCesare deve morire
In an Italian prison, inmates putting on a production of Julius Caesar find many mirrors to their own lives. The title translates to "Caesar Must Die."   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 6:10PM

Cover ArtA lady never lies
by Gray, Juliana, 1972-
The first in a trilogy of novels inspired by Love's Labour's Lost. Three noblemen and three ladies, all intent on a year of strict study, accidentally occupy the same castle in 19th century Italy. It is followed, in order, by A Gentleman Never Tells and A Duke Never Yields.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 4:04PM

Cover ArtFool
by Moore, Christopher, 1957-
King Lear, retold from the point of view of the Fool, in classic Christopher Moore fashion.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 3:59PM

Cover ArtWilliam Shakespeare's Star Wars : verily, a new hope
by Doescher, Ian
Star Wars, written in Shakespearean language.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 3:56PM

Cover ArtShakespeare : the world as stage
by Bryson, Bill.
Highlights in this fun, concise biography include Bryson's list of some of the phrases Shakespeare coined, the words he invented, and the clear debunking of the "someone else wrote Shakespeare" group, all in under 200 pages.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 3:51PM

Cover ArtHamlet
by Branagh, Kenneth.
The only film version of Hamlet to include everything in the play.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 2:00PM

Cover ArtWest Side story [videorecording]
Inspired by Romeo and Juliet.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 1:59PM

Cover Art10 things I hate about you [videorecording]
Inspired by Taming of the Shrew.   posted Apr 22, 2014 at 1:58PM

Cover ArtBook lust : recommended reading for every mood, moment, and reason
by Pearl, Nancy
The perfect book for someone who is wondering what they should read next. Nancy Pearl provides an incredibly eclectic array of books to choose from, and discusses them all in easy and inviting prose. There is something for readers of any type in this book!   posted Apr 9, 2014 at 1:45PM

Cover ArtTolstoy and the purple chair : my year of magical reading
by Sankovitch, Nina
After her sister dies of cancer, Nina Sankovitch turns to the books they both loved for comfort and guidance about how to truly move on with her life in this wise, warm memoir. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is the history of their loving family, and an exploration of the ways reading can provide illumination, pleasure and comfort all at once.   posted Apr 8, 2014 at 3:30PM

Cover ArtThe polysyllabic spree
by Hornby, Nick.
Funny, affectionate, and true to life, The Polysyllabic Spree is the first in a series of books that chronicles Nick Hornby's attempts to read every book he buys.   posted Apr 7, 2014 at 1:26PM

Cover ArtThe most wonderful books : writers on discovering the pleasures of reading
This great book, published by Minnesota publishing company Milkweed Editions, contains essays from 57 contemporary writers on how they learned to love reading, and the impact books have had on their life. Some standout essays include Bill Holm's lovely "More Shelf Space," and the sublimely funny "Apologies of a Bookworm," by Wicked author Gregory Maguire.   posted Apr 7, 2014 at 1:03PM

Cover ArtWill in the world : how Shakespeare became Shakespeare
by Greenblatt, Stephen, 1943-
Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Greenblatt creates a deep, breathtakingly vivid portrait of Shakespeare by analyzing his words and connecting them to the events of the day. This is not only an incredibly insightful biography, it is also a glimpse into the intense, complicated world of Elizabethan England, and and a magnificently accessible window into Shakespeare's plays.   posted Apr 4, 2014 at 4:25PM

Cover ArtUsed and rare : travels in the book world
by Goldstone, Lawrence, 1947-
Nancy Goldstone stumbled into book collecting because of searching for an inexpensive birthday gift for Lawrence. They discovered that building a home library of books they loved opened another world to them; of people who sold books and those who collected specific types of books. A turning point for both of them was discovering the story about the book as well as the story within the book.   posted Apr 4, 2014 at 3:30PM

Cover ArtPrincess : a true story of life behind the veil in Saudi Arabia
by Sasson, Jean P.
The gripping story of a very privileged woman in Saudi Arabia, Princess recounts the parade of injustices visited upon her and her female relatives. The spirit and intelligence of "Sultana," a pseudonym, make her a hero the reader won't stop rooting for.   posted Apr 4, 2014 at 1:51PM

Cover ArtJim Henson : the works : the art, the magic, the imagination
by Finch, Christopher.
This biography provides a glimpse into the imagination of the creator of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and of course, the Muppets. The 500 color illustrations include some that were taken behind the scenes of the shows.   posted Apr 4, 2014 at 1:24PM

Cover ArtThe book of my lives
by Hemon, Aleksandar, 1964-
In this gorgeously written, deeply felt memoir, Hemon writes about the joys of his youth in Sarajevo, the pain of being an exile inthe United States when the war in Bosnia breaks out, and the eventual shaping of his life in Chicago. Along the way, he writes passionately about identity, loss, friendship, love, animals, and, in a standout essay, soccer. A beautiful book.   posted Apr 2, 2014 at 2:00PM

Cover ArtCatapult : Harry and I build a siege weapon
by Paul, Jim, 1950-
Catapult is, on its face, exactly what it sounds like - the writer and his friend Harry decide to build a catapult so they can throw larger rocks into San Fransisco Bay. However, in its own easy going, entertaining way, it goes deeper, becoming a story about friendship, and a history of weaponry.   posted Apr 2, 2014 at 1:30PM

Cover ArtOperating instructions : a journal of my son's first year
by Lamott, Anne.
A funny, compassionate look at parenthood. Lamott, who is also the writer of popular self - help books, writes a warm, warts - and - all account of raising her son as a single mother, while dealing with the cancer diagnosis of her best friend.   posted Mar 31, 2014 at 2:27PM

Cover ArtWe learn nothing : essays and cartoons
by Kreider, Tim
Don't let the 'cartoons' in the title dissaude you from reading this book. Though Kreider's essays are very witty and often funny, they're also thoughtful. Whether pondering the different ways his friends have gone in life, trying to adjust to a new family, or considering Tristram Shandy, Kreider is always good company.   posted Mar 28, 2014 at 4:19PM

Cover ArtLadies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning : 1977, baseball, politics, and the b
by Mahler, Jonathan, 1969-
In Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning, Mahler profiles the events of the summer of 1977, events he argues sparked the reinvention of New York City that made it what it is today. He may or may not be right, but his colorful portrayal of the Yankees' run for the World Series, the mayoral race, the hunt for the Son of Sam killer, and an infamous blackout in the Bronx is astute and enjoyable.   posted Mar 28, 2014 at 4:01PM

Cover ArtLoud and clear
by Quindlen, Anna.
Anna Quindlen's third collection of columns is eloquent, diverse, and tremendous. She covers a wide range of issues, from her children's growth into adults to the impact of Barbie, to 9/11, with grace and wit.   posted Mar 25, 2014 at 6:51PM

Cover ArtCitizens of London : the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest, finest
by Olson, Lynne.
Though the alliance between the US and Great Britain during World War II has been a common subject of historians, much less has been written of the three men profiled here, who were instrumental in bridging the gap between the embattled British and the reluctant American government at the beginning of the war. The lives of John Gilbert Wynant, American ambassador, Edward R. Murrow, famous journalist, and Averell Harriman, entrepeneur, are profiled here with intelligence, depth and warmth, as are other Americans who came to England to help in the war effort. Though rich in research and detail, this book absorbs the reader from the first page.   posted Mar 24, 2014 at 4:01PM

Cover ArtCastles in the air
by Corbett, Judy.
A nearly penniless young couple decide to buy and renovate a 16th century castle. What could go wrong? Plenty, but this book is not The Money Pit. It is instead an inspiring, romantic story of how much history and beauty can be saved, if people are persistent enough.   posted Mar 24, 2014 at 3:27PM

Cover ArtThe midwife : a memoir of birth, joy, and hard times
by Worth, Jennifer, 1935-2011
This is the first of a trilogy of books by Jennifer Worth about her years as a midwife in London's East End during the 1950's. She moves to a convent to work with the nuns in the community and meets a variety of memorable people - a woman with 24 children, the local crazy woman, and a man who loses his young wife to complications of pregnancy. Call the Midwife is the DVD series based on these books.   posted Mar 24, 2014 at 12:33PM

Cover ArtDear exile : the true story of two friends separated (for a year) by an ocean
by Liftin, Hilary.
Kate and Hilary are two very close friends who are separated for a year when Kate and her husband move to Kenya to teach in the Peace Corps. As they exchange letters, they draw the reader into Kate's struggles to adjust to life in Kenya (including malaria, abusive teachers, and corruption) and Hilary's life as a single woman in Manhattan (a terrifying neighbor, balancing work and life, and trying to find love). Their experiences are very different, but they complement each other beautifully, with both women coming across as strong, engaging and empathetic. Ultimately, this is the story of two friends coming of age together, though they are thousands of miles apart.   posted Mar 24, 2014 at 11:58AM

Cover ArtCleopatra : a life
by Schiff, Stacy.
A fascinating, authoritative biography of the Egyptian queen by a Pulitzer prize - winning author. Schiff cuts through the layers of contrary stories about Cleopatra and presents the reader with a portrait of a brilliant, dynamic ruler at the crossroads of a changing world.   posted Mar 24, 2014 at 11:24AM

Cover ArtEvery man in this village is a liar : an education in war
by Stack, Megan K.
This is a raw, searing account of the effect that witnessing war can have on a person. The author, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, becomes her paper's foreign correspondent at 25, and is thrust into covering war all across the Middle East. Eloquent and humane, it was a National Book Award finalist.   posted Mar 18, 2014 at 6:45PM

Cover ArtThe sex lives of cannibals : adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
by Troost, J. Maarten.
This is the funniest book about Kiribati that you will ever read. Admittedly, it is not a crowded field, since very few people live in this tiny nation in the South Pacific, let alone write funny books about it, but really, no one could write a more entertaining, yet educational, book on Kiribati than this one.   posted Mar 18, 2014 at 4:55PM

Cover ArtMy ideal bookshelf
A fun idea turned into a beautiful book! The author asked a diverse group of cultural figures - from writers (such as Dave Eggers, James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer), performers (Patti Smith), and movie moguls (Judd Apatow) what their ideal bookshelf would look like, and had an illustrator paint the results. The book is full of lovely paintings, and it is a lovely tribute to the books that shape us.   posted Mar 18, 2014 at 4:00PM

Cover ArtNine parts of desire : the hidden world of Islamic women
by Brooks, Geraldine.
Before she wrote fiction, (People of the Book, March, Year of Wonders), Geraldine Brooks was an award - winning reporter who often reported from the Middle East. She wrote this daring and fascinating look at women in the various countries there, from Iran to Ethiopia. This is a wonderful, thought - provoking read.   posted Mar 18, 2014 at 2:58PM

Cover ArtMarley & me : life and love with the world's worst dog
by Grogan, John, 1957-
The classic account of life and love with a dog. It's absolutely worth reading, or rereading. Hilarious, sweet and deeper than it first appears.   posted Mar 12, 2014 at 2:22PM

Cover ArtWe bought a zoo
by Mee, Benjamin.
We Bought A Zoo is part loving family memoir, part adventure story, and entirely charming. Zoos are always controversial, but Benjamin Mee makes an excellent case for their importance.   posted Mar 12, 2014 at 2:20PM

Cover ArtMolly Ivins can't say that, can she?
by Ivins, Molly.
A laugh - out - loud funny, but still very passionate, collection of columns from the 1980s and 1990s. Many deal with political matters, both in Texas and nationally, but there are also eloquent pieces on journalism and an unspeakably funny essay about her dog. Not to be missed!   posted Feb 24, 2014 at 2:28PM

Cover ArtRunning in the family
by Ondaatje, Michael, 1943-
A lyrical account of the author's childhood and family history in Sri Lanka. Moving, poetic, and incredibly vivid, this book brings a long gone world to life.   posted Feb 21, 2014 at 3:01PM

Cover ArtThe most beautiful walk in the world : a pedestrian in Paris
by Baxter, John, 1939-
This book is almost hard to describe. It works as a light history of Paris, as a book about guiding tours, and tourism, and as a memoir about living in Paris. At every level,though, it is engaging and good - humored. It would also make a wonderful guidebook!   posted Feb 21, 2014 at 12:58PM

Cover ArtConfederates in the attic : dispatches from the unfinished Civil War
by Horwitz, Tony, 1958-
Sometimes funny, other times tragic, Tony Horwitz's look at the Civil War's legacy in the South is always engaging and readable.   posted Feb 18, 2014 at 7:09PM

Cover ArtGame change : Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the race of a lifeti
by Heilemann, John, 1966-
A deeply engrossing, incredibly detailed, and always interesting look at the 2008 election. The authors' sources give them an almost unbelievable amount of information about the behind the scenes aspects of the campaigns, but they make it all into a story you cannot put down.   posted Feb 18, 2014 at 6:55PM

Cover ArtMy family and other animals.
by Durrell, Gerald, 1925-1995.
Wonderful for all ages! This is the uproarious, classic account of an animal - loving British boy, his diverse brothers and sisters, and their very patient mother living in Corfu in the 1930s. Its vivid descriptions of the idyllic life on the island will make you want to buy a ticket immediately!   posted Feb 18, 2014 at 6:50PM

Cover ArtOne summer : America, 1927
by Bryson, Bill.
Bryson at his best, this book is eclectic, funny, and perceptive. It touches on aviation, anarchists, boxing, crime and politics, to name just a few, but makes it all into a fascinating portrait of the 1920s.   posted Feb 18, 2014 at 6:34PM

Cover ArtThree came home,
The beautiful, searing story of the writer, Agnes Newton Keith, her husband and her young son, who are held in a Japanese internment camp in Borneo during World War II. The author's compassion for her captors is remarkable, especially given that the book was written and released in 1946, only a year after her release. Claudette Colbert played the author in a movie version.   posted Feb 18, 2014 at 6:32PM

Cover ArtHow reading changed my life
by Quindlen, Anna.
A sublime, passionate celebration of books and reading. Anna Quindlen always writes beautifully, but this may be her at her best.   posted Feb 14, 2014 at 5:01PM

Cover ArtEx libris : confessions of a common reader
by Fadiman, Anne, 1953-
An intimate, sweet, and interesting look at many aspects of reading life. The essay "Marrying Libraries," describes the process by which the author and her husband combined their book collection. It is a must read for any bookworm!   posted Feb 14, 2014 at 4:59PM

Cover ArtA fine and private place, a novel
By Peter S. Beagle   posted Feb 11, 2014 at 1:55PM

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