Stuff We Like 2014: CLP Volunteers Edition

Between helping out with special events and programs, teaching global language classes, mentoring teens, and doing community outreach, CLP volunteers squeeze in time for their first love – checking things out from the Library! Here’s a selection of 2014 favorites from a few of our great volunteers:


The Secret Keeper is the only book I have ever read the second time. The ending was so mortonsurprising and shocking that I wanted to look for clues the second time around to see if I could figure out what would happen. The story takes place over more than 50 years beginning before World War II in England. The relationship of the key characters in the story is intriguing, and amazing how it all comes together at the conclusion. I highly recommend this book and this author. The Forgotten Garden, also written by Kate Morton, is another great book!


martianOne of my favorite books of 2014 is Andy Weir’s debut, The Martian. It’s like if Castaway was set on Mars, and Wilson was a potato. It was selected by another member of my SciFi Fantasy book club, and I was honestly dreading reading it.

Survival fiction generally isn’t my cup of tea, but this was engagingly plotted and the main character is impossible not to root for. There’s a great balance between humor and suspense, and everything that happens comes across very believably. If you like audiobooks, this one is superbly narrated by RC Bray. It’s also been nominated for an Audie Award, and won the GoodReads Choice Award in the Science Fiction category. Read it before the movie comes out in 2015!


One of my favorite things about the library is that it lets you indulge many of the pleasant obsessions you may find yourself having over the duration of your life. For the past several years I have almost exclusively read memoirs and biographies, mostly of your average person who may have had a not-so-average life.

An impoverished descendant of John Jacob Astor? Yes, please!

Growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution? Sign me up.

Britain’s oldest living nanny? I’ll take it.

Memoir of a Peace Corps Volunteer? Definitely.

As another year of reading about the lives of others comes to a close, I’ve looked back over lastgentlemanthose I read about. My favorite of the year just may be The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic by Edward Maurice. It was a cozy tale including all my favorite things: immersion in a new and unfamiliar culture, an exotic locale, and superb writing. This book, written by the author in old age, is about his years spent working at a fur trading post for the Hudson Bay Company beginning when he was 16. He was stationed in the northern reaches of Canada on Baffin Island in the 1930’s and lived among the Inuit people (whom he calls Eskimos). If you’re looking for a good book to curl up with this winter – and something to remind you that, yes, the weather outside could be worse – try this!


If you’d like to learn more about volunteering with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, click here. If you speak Italian, German, or Spanish we could really use your help right now, but there are many other volunteer opportunities to choose from, too–a little something for everybody. Volunteers play a key role in helping the Library fulfill its mission to engage the community in literacy and learning! And as you can tell from the book reviews above, you would be in great company.


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