Tag Archives: stuff we like

Yet Another Best Of List

Because of a technical glitch, my selections for favorite books read in 2014 didn’t quite make it into the annual Stuff We Like edition of Eleventh Stack.

This just means now I get to tell you all about the great things I discovered this year in MY VERY OWN POST.

Funny how life works out that way.

History of the RainYou already know how much I loved History of the Rain, the Man Booker Prize nominated novel by Niall Williams. As we come to year’s end, this remains one of my favorite books I read in 2014. It has one of my favorite quotes as its second paragraph:

“We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. That’s how it seems to me, being alive for a little while, the teller and the told.” (pg. 1) 

Glitter and Glue

Another book that I loved right away was Kelly Corrigan’s memoir Glitter and Glue.  Now, some may say I’m partial to Ms. Corrigan’s writing because, like me, she’s a Philly girl. That certainly helps, but the fact remains that she’s a damn good writer – and Glitter and Glue is a fantastic follow-up (actually, it’s somewhat of a prequel) to The Middle Place.


I read a lot of poetry this year, and much of what I read was by poets who were new-t0-me. My favorite poetry book is actually a single poem in book-length form.  Edward Hirsch’s work was among my favorites before 2014, which made Gabriel: A Poem a highly-anticipated read.  A tribute to and reflection on his loss of his son, Mr. Hirsch’s heartbreak cracks your heart open with the grief on every line he writes.

Love Life

Finally, this was the year of the audiobook – at least for me.  I listened to a total of 20, mostly during my commute to and from my job here at the Library.  (Those minutes sitting in traffic on the Vet’s Bridge really do add up. Who knew?)  Among those who kept me awake was none other than Rob Lowe, who filled my car with long-ago tales of debauchery, a tearjerker about sending his son off to college, and a female co-star who had a difficult time kissing him. (Note to Rob: if you ever find yourself in such a predicament again, drop me a note and I’ll help you out.) Now, celebrity memoirs by people who don’t even need their name on the book cover are usually not my thing, but if you grew up in the ’80s as I did, you might find Love Life irresistible.

What books, music and movies did you find irresistible in 2014?

~ Melissa F.


Filed under Uncategorized

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.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized