2021 Staff Favorites

The White Plains Library Staff have assembled their picks for the year, featuring cookbooks, DVDs, music, audiobooks, and plenty of plain old books. It's a wonderfully wide-ranging list, full of lots of surprises, and should help with your holiday shopping or just some entertainment for yourself. Enjoy!

Below you'll find a list with links to the catalog or resource where they're available as well as a blurb on why staff enjoyed it.

Books (Adults)

Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir by Christopher Buckley
OverDrive & Libby: eBook / Audiobook
An funny and touching account of the year writer Christopher Buckley lost his parents, Patricia, a prominent New York socialite, and William F. Jr., the founder of the modern conservative movement. With two larger than life parents, Buckley has plenty of stories to tell.–Austin Duffy, Adult Services

Murder at Mallowan Hall by Colleen Cambridge
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
A near-perfect traditional mystery—the first body is found in the library, stabbed in the neck by a fountain pen—set during a house party in the early 1930s. But Cambridge flips the paradigm and instead of focusing on the posh guests, tells the story from the perspective of the help, most notably Phyllida Bright, housekeeper extraordinaire. Bright, a friend of Christie as well as an employee, models her investigation on Poirot, right down to the classic denouement delivered by Bright in the library. Gender roles, sexual harassment, and same-sex love are key elements, but Cambridge succeeds in keeping the novel squarely in its era. Two words describe this book: absolutely delicious.–Brian Kenney, Library Director
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Library Catalog: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
This book was originally published in the 1990's, but I first heard of it this year. It's a 12-week workbook designed to help banish writer's block (or artist's block) and foster a spirit of fun and creativity; the book kept me busy and happy during the otherwise depressing pandemic winter of 2021.–Kathlyn Carroll, Youth Services
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Library Collection: Print / Large Print / CD Audiobook
OverDrive & Libby: eBook / Audiobook
This book reflects (to me at least) the raw, dangerous, hopeless and also hopeful journey that immigrants go through on their way to the United States.Their reasons to make this journey are as different as are their stories, their survival depends as much in staying together as in staying apart; trusting the wrong person can have fatal consequences, not trusting anyone could kill you as well. Who will make it to the “promised land” remains to be seen, who can stay there is another journey altogether.–Tata Cañuelas, Youth Services
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
Library Collection: Print / Large Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook / Audiobook
Great mysteries interwoven in this story. It gives life to ambition, passions, and friendships within a woman and her family's lifetime as the present and past come together to allow a young woman to come to terms with her family's legacy.–Mary Ellen Garcia, Circulation
The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook / Audiobook (read by the author)
From drumming on couch pillows to an international musician, Grohl shares his stories using his honesty, gratitude and appreciation. It brings out the rock star in all of us.–Sharon Rothman, Adult Services
Beowulf: a New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: Audiobook
Generally when it comes to classics, I'm not too fond of modernized translations, even if they are meant to be a parody. Headley does utilize some more modern terms, such as her translation of “hwæt” as “bro,” but it works extremely well when you consider how the tale was originally meant to be told by men in a mead hall. Personally, I think this should be read aloud, because the lyricism of this translation is sonically perfect at times:

he gave good gifts. His war-wedded wore kings' rings,
and drank their leader's mead. Nightly, he feted his fight-family
with fortunes. The hall loomed, golden towers antler-tipped;
it was asking for burning, but that hadn't happened yet.
You know how it is: every castle wants invading, and every family
has enemies born within it. Old grudges recrudesce.

Can you tell I have a fondness for epic poems (see my movie pick below)?–Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno, Adult Services & Marketing

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook / Audiobook
This compelling memoir by an Auschwitz survivor inspires the reader to make positive choices every day. “Hate is a disease that may destroy your enemy, but will also destroy you in the process,” Jaku said in his 2019 TED Talk.–Sharon Rothman, Adult Services
Baking for the Holidays by Sara Lieffer
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
This cookbook goes beyond holiday desserts. Lieffer includes chapters like gift giving, morning pastries and year-round confections. It doesn’t matter if you are baking with loved ones or for loved ones, it’s the joy that makes these recipes taste delicious.–Sharon Rothman, Adult Services
Later by Stephen King
Library Collection: Print / CD Audiobook
OverDrive & Libby: eBook / Audiobook
Stephen King, well known for his horror books, has now published his third crime novel, Later, with Hard Case Crime. The story includes a young protagonist who can see dead people; a literary agent whose biggest client has died before completing the final book in a very popular and profitable series; the NYPD are involved; there is even a bombing at a grocery store in Long Island. King is a great storyteller and this tale does not disappoint.–Tim Baird, Adult Services
Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette
Library Collection: Print
Hoopla: Audiobook
Luchette's debut novel is a moving and (deadpan) funny story of a closeted lesbian Catholic sister and her journey of self-discovery and doubt. Agatha and her three sisters are sent to manage a halfway house in Rhode Island after their Buffalo parish goes broke. Once they arrive, they must examine what their religion means to them and help guide the lives of their charges. There are bizarre comedic moments amidst strife, and wonderfully relatable moments of understanding platonic love and what it truly means to care for those around you.–Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno, Adult Services & Marketing
The Last Mona Lisa by Jonathan Santlofer
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
It’s 1911, and Vincenzo Peruggia has pulled off one of the greatest art heists of all time: the theft of the Mona Lisa. The painting was missing for two years before it was recovered, and the crime spawned innumerable conspiracy theories, with some suggesting that forgeries were made during its hiatus, including the painting now hanging in the Louvre. Flip to the present, when we meet Luke Perrone, an artist obsessed with Peruggia for good reason: Peruggia is his great-grandfather. When Perrone gets word that great-grandad’s diary has surfaced, he hightails it to Florence with the hope of learning more about his ancestor and the theft. It’s a pleasure to explore Florence and its art through Perrone’s eyes, and the shifts between 1911 and the present make for a compelling read. Fans of Iain Pears and Barbara Shapiro are sure to love this novel.–Brian Kenney, Library Director
You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook / Audiobook (read by the author)
As a fan of actress Gabrielle Union I enjoyed listening to this audiobook which she narrates. A candid memoir about her life, pursuing surrogacy after experiencing infertility, dealing with depression and facing racial prejudices in Hollywood. I definitely recommend checking this one out if you enjoyed her first memoir,”We're going to need more wine” or if you're just a fan of hers in general.–Mariel Perez, Adult Services

Books (Kids & Teens)

The Rumble Hunters by Courtney B. Dunlap, illustrated by Nazar Horokhivskyi (picture book)
Library Catalog
Selected as an honor book in The Selfies Book Awards U.S. for great independently published works, The Rumble Hunters excels at showing both childhood fears (of the dark) and courage (to confront those fears), the vivid power of imagination (Horokhivskyi’s illustrations bring that imagination wonderfully to life), and the joys of family. Such a great read.–Josh Carlson, Youth Services

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld (picture book)
Library Catalog
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
Selected as a New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Book of the Year, I really hope this book wins awards and more recognition. The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess is a quirky, heartfelt and inventive modern fairy tale with some absolutely wonderful illustrations and filled with magic, adventure, compassion and the bonds of love and family. I was completely surprised by this absolutely delightful picture book and I really hope to see Gauld, a cartoonist for The Guardian, create some more children's books.–Josh Carlson, Youth Services
One of the Good Ones by Maika and Maritza Moulite
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
This YA book is a page turner! At first glance, you think it will be a good read about racial justice and teens fighting for it (and it is), but oh, the twist!!! Never in a million years would I have guessed. It's simply unreal!!–Lauren Lichtenthal, Youth Services
A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
This young adult book is about 17-year-old Lila as she leaves her Miami home and is sent to England by her family when she's going through a rough time after her Abuela's death, her boyfriend ending things, and a betrayal from her best friend. I really enjoyed this story since it features a lot of wonderfully described baked goods and a cute romance!–Ashley Bressingham, Youth Services
The Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
This middle grade novel recommended by Project LIT did not disappoint! I was definitely a skeptic as it involves dinosaurs during the Civil War in New York, but it was so good. The world building was wonderfully executed so that it did not seem unusual to be riding pteradons over the roofs of New York City. I can't wait to read the next two in the series.–Lauren Lichtenthal, Youth Services
Hair Story written by NoNieqa Ramos & illustrated by Keisha Morris
Library Collection: Print
NoNieqa Ramos' bouncy, rhythmic verse tells the story of two young Puerto Rican girls and their hair escapades finding love and acceptance from their families and community, and celebrating their rich cultural inheritance from “Fro-ments in Time.” Keisha Morris' collage art brings a freshness and warmth to the poetry, and I especially loved her wall mural depiction of Black, Afro-Latinx and non-Black Latinx historical figures! The historical afterword brings the poetry and art of the story together beautifully.–Raquel Cavalcanti, Youth Services
Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
Library Catalog
OverDrive & Libby
Nyxia is a thrilling sci-fi adventure in which teens on a spaceship compete for the chance to visit an alien planet and collect a new [super]natural resource known as nyxia. It's a very original story, with startling twists and turns that kept me interested through the whole trilogy.–Kathlyn Carroll, Youth Services
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Library Collection: Print
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
The book is a retelling of Les miserables (one of my favorite musicals) and introduces the notion of law, duty vs. doing the right act regardless of the law (for example Pong is helped by a monk when he steals a snack from the cart when he is hungry.) The book weaves in the themes of Les Miserables, along with a fantastical element and cultural tale (the book takes place in Thailand.) I consider The Wish in the Dark one of the best children's books I have read in the past few years.–Caroline Reddy, Youth Services
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre written by Carole Boston Weatherford & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Library Collection
OverDrive & Libby: eBook
Unspeakable tells the long-suppressed violent history of the Tulsa Race Massacre that occurred on May 31st and June 1st, 1921. Carole Boston Weatherford's eloquently-written manner is balanced and appropriate for children to understand the tragedy. Floyd Cooper's artwork beautifully illustrates the thriving Black community of Greenwood, and Greenwood Avenue which became known as Black Wall Street, and also eloquently illustrates the heart wrenching destruction of that community by a white mob that left more than 8,000 people homeless and approximately 300 dead. Suppression of the details of the event was so great that remains of the victims of the massacre have still not been located. Floyd Cooper's (who passed away this year, leaving this work as one of his last) personal discussion of his grandfather's (who had survived the massacre himself) retelling of events was especially moving for me.–Raquel Cavalcanti, Youth Services


The Green Knight
Directed by David Lowery. Starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Barry Keoghan, Erin Kellyman, Sean Harris, Joel Edgerton, Ralph Ineson.
Library Collection: DVD / Blu-ray
I've been a fan of Dev Patel (and most of the UK Skins' cast) since high school, and have happily seen his career flourish over the years. You can only imagine my excitement when I discovered he was starring in an adaptation of another high school (required reading) favorite: Gawain and the Green Knight. I wasn't disappointed either – Dev Patel is a compelling Gawain, he plays the privileged nephew of King Arthur perfectly, and – as Director David Lowery intended (“I…knew that he could do anything in the movie and [the audience] would still be on his side.“) – you still can't help but root for him in his struggles. This is no straight medieval adventure film as it does get a bit trippy at times, but even if you lose the thread of the plot, the cinematography alone is worth the watch as certain shots look like medieval paintings.–Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno, Adult Services & Marketing

The Little Things
Library Collection: DVD / Blu Ray
What it’s about: A small town cop has to go into the City where his career was ruined for a case, only to stumble on a lead to an old case.
Why I like it: It stars Denzel Washington and Rami Malek, so awesome by default!–Erik Carlson, Youth Services
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Library Collection: DVD / Blu Ray
It was a much longer than usual wait for more Marvel movies due to the pandemic, but 2021 provided quite a bit. Of the films released (so far) this year, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was leaps and bounds above the rest. Great action, amazing fight scenes, cool visuals, good character development and story, and it was filled with great moments of humor and humanity amongst the superheroic action. It connected and teased the greater MCU without forcing those connections, provided great support for increasing Asian representation in blockbuster moviemaking, and overall was just so much fun. In my opinion, it was not only the best Marvel film of the year, but easily slid into my top 5 (maybe even top 3!) MCU movies.–Josh Carlson, Youth Services
Library Collection: DVD
Ralph Fiennes is truly stellar in this movie along with a cast that gives a voice to how humans maintained dignity in the rise, fall and occupation of Hungary. The loss and upheaval served as a reminder of how important it is to love one's history, culture and overall family.–Mary Ellen Garcia, Circulation


“Steady Love” off Worthy by India Arie
Library Collection: CD
Soulful and an honest look at how hearts and humans welcome each other on so many levels.–Suzette Patterson, Circulation

Woman by Jill Scott
Nothing like this amazing artist speaking truth during a 6 hour drive. Soulful, wise, reflective and great performances within.–Mary Ellen Garcia, Circulation

Magazines and More

Consumer Reports
Access here.
My TV made a weird noise, then died. It was time for a new one, but in the ten years since I'd last shopped for a TV, much had changed. Should I get an OLED? Which apps were standard? What about HDR? I only knew that I didn't want the 80 lb. one that ships in a box the size of a horse. Consumer Reports had the answers to my questions. Their unbiased ratings and reviews on TVs, sound bars, streaming devices, and headphones helped me quickly find what I needed as well as a backup model or two in the event of supply chain issues. Does someone on your holiday list want an air fryer, cell phone, bike helmet or one of dozens of other products? Check out Consumer Reports! Please note that Consumer Reports is not available through the Libby app or OverDrive, it can only be accessed via our website, here.–Karyn DeLuca, Librarian

Vanity Fair
OverDrive & Libby
What's Dwayne The Rock Johnson's favorite candy bar? Did he call Vin Diesel his favorite candy-related insult, leftover from his wrestling days? Will he run for president? Johnson reveals all in the November issue of Vanity Fair, one of thousands of magazines available in our free app, Libby. Magazines are always available, no holds or waiting lists, and you can borrow as many as you'd like. Reading articles in Libby is a breeze, just tap the page icon at the bottom of your screen to enlarge the text and photos. If you'd prefer to read magazines on your laptop or desktop, which is how I read some of my favorite design magazines, e.g. The World of Interiors, go to our OverDrive site (Libby is the mobile app version of OverDrive) here.–Karyn DeLuca, Librarian
Black Hammer: Secret Origins, by Jeff Lemire
Available in Print or Comics Plus
What it’s about: A group of superheroes are trapped inside a small rural town after defeating the Anti-god.
Why I like it: Because there are other comics than Marvel and DC, and they are really good too!–Erik Carlson, Youth Services
Face Masks:
Allbirds TrinoXO
They are soft, comfortable and fit well. They are also made using upcycled materials.–Erik Carlson, Youth Services

Video Game:
Just Dance 22 for the Switch
More songs and great dance moves. Available for teens to play on Thursdays in the Edge.–Erik Carlson, Youth Services

Categories: Authors & Books, Featured, Homepage, Kids, Library News, and Teens.


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