What We’re Reading Special Edition: ALA Attendees | ALA Annual 2014

We’re mixing things up this week for What We’re Reading, giving the LJ/School Library Journal staff a break and asking ALA attendees for their input. What follows is a thoroughly random report from people I spoke with on the exhibit floor and at various events held at ALA in Las Vegas, June 26 through July 1. At a lovely Hachette Books–sponsored dinner, Patty Baldwin, Assistant Director of the Guilford, CT, Free Library, spoke longingly about Bread & Butter (Doubleday), Michelle Wildgen’s novel about competing chef brothers that had her drooling and starving on her long and food-free flight to Vegas. GabaldonJeannie Bogino, who wears many hats (author; New Lebanon, NY, library director; LJ reviewer) “loved” two books she is reviewing for LJ: Diana Gabaldon’s “phonebook” sized June release Written in My Heart’s Blood (Delacorte) and Five Days Left (Amy Einhorn: Putnam) by Julie Lawson Timmer, which comes out this September. Latino Writers Collective founder Angela Cervantes, who is also the debut author of middle-grade YA Gaby, Lost and Found (Scholastic), enjoyed the” verse style” format and redeeming rescue story of Mountain Dog (Square Fish) by Margarita Engle (illus. by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov). LJ reviewer and contributor Kristi Chadwick, Advisor—Small Libraries at Massachusetts Library System, had good things to say about  Jane Cleland’s upcoming (Dec.) Josie Prescott antiques-themed mystery, Blood Rubies (Minotaur), as the book is part of a “great developing series.” Liz Deskins, Library Media Specialist at Hilliard Bradley High School in Ohio, just finished Janet Evanovich’s brand-new Stephanie Plum novel, Top-Secret Twenty-One (Bantam). She also enjoyed We Were Liars (Delacorte) by E. Lockhart, which she knew would be good because she liked Lockhart’s previous middle-grade title, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Disney: Hyperion). Donna DeStefano, Account Manager of digital audiobook company Findaway World, just finished listening to Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (Hachette Audio), and before that, was so entranced by Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (Random House Audio) that she didn’t even mind the heavy commuter traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Krystin D. Higgins Mast, Director of Operations at David Allan Hubbard Library/Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, is in the process of getting her MMLIS (Master of  Management in Library and Information Science) so she only has time for textbooks. She plugged Harvard Business Review texts specifically as being very informative. MaryMiley2Nann Blaine Hilyard, retired librarian and quiltmaker/blogger, endorsed How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables (Storey) by Rebecca Rupp, and a second “Roaring Twenties Mystery” by Mary Miley, A Silent Murder (Minotaur). She ‘fessed up that she’s known Miley since fifth grade, “but the books are still great.” Deborah Hunt, Library Director at Mechanics’ Institute Library in San Francisco, “one of the few remaining membership libraries,” found the nonfiction River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey (Doubleday) by former National Geographic writer Candice Millard to be “better than fiction.” Lonely Planet Director of Sales (Americas) Patricia Kelly liked The Son, Jo Nesbø’s new stand-alone from Knopf, because it had “less violence” than his Harry Hole books. She also recommended Ghost Month by Ed Lin (Soho) and Last Night at the Blue Angel (Morrow) by Rebecca Rotert, which she dubbed “terrific.” gulpLJ reviewer Lindsay King, Public Services Librarian at Yale’s Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, enjoyed Gulp by Mary Roach (Norton); Rhonda K. Garelick’s study of a modern dance pioneer, Electric Salome: Loie Fuller’s Performance of Modernism (Princeton Univ.); and the “somewhat academic” The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History (Oxford Univ. Pr.) by Leo Braudy. Library consultant Barbara Klipper of Stamford, CT, and Provincetown, MA, was positively evangelical about Positive (HarperCollins) by Paige Rawl (with Ali Benjamin), a young woman’s memoir about staying upbeat despite being born HIV-positive and being bullied by classmates. Ilene N. Lefkowitz, who compiled Read On…Romance: Reading Lists for Every Taste (ABC-CLIO) with C.L. Quillen, was riveted by Heather Gudenkauf’s Little Mercies (Mira: Harlequin). Syosset Public Library (NY) Head of Programming Pamela Martin is interested in reading about female protagonists over 50 nowadays; the 70-something heroine of Stephanie Kallos’s Broken for You (Grove) fit the bill nicely. HeathOnceMoreRogueAlene Moroni, who has a short handle on twitter (@surlyspice) and a very long title at work (Manager, Selection and Order Collection Management Services, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA) just finished reading Lorraine Heath’s Once More, My Darling Rogue (Avon) on edelweiss—the book releases in August. Kenn Nesbitt, Children’s Poet Laureate (I got to hold his medal!) was very enthusiastic about humorist Scott Meyer’s follow-up to Off To Be the Wizard, which is titled Spell or High Water (Amazon). Nesbitt said he loved the hilarious subtitle of David Wong’s This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It (St. Martin’s). Chicagoans William Provis (ret., Chicago P.L.) and Cathy Jo Yarmoski shared their reading choices at the Random House & United for Libraries ALA Welcome Party (which also had a 75th birthday cake for Batman). Provis was toting around a vintage Perry Mason title, Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Curious Bride (Pocket, 5th ed., 1967); Yarmoski was a little more contemporary in her choices, having just finished Marie Lu’s dystopian YA trilogy (Legend/Prodigy/Champion, all published by Penguin). Michael Rockliff, Director of Library Markets at Workman Publishing, “felt my anger bubbling away” after reading the manuscript of Workman middle-grade novel Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi. The book is set in the Fifties, during the Red Scare era. Rockliff also pulled Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle off his shelves at home “just to browse” and ended up rereading the entire novel. 5CameBackaudioAt the LJ Movers and Shakers lunch, I heard from Kaite Mediatore Stover, Director of Readers’ Services, Kansas City Public Library. On the plane to ALA, Stover listened to an audiobook version of Mark Harris’s Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War, which follows five WWII-era directors who went to war (and came back). Andrew Garman narrates the Recorded Books audiobook. Sandi Thompson, Library Media Technician at Mesa Verde Middle School in Moorpark, CA, likes to read the books her patrons request frequently, but she also likes to give them first shot, so she recently read 2011’s Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown) and Insurgent (Katherine Tegen: HarperCollins), Veronica Roth’s second “Divergent” book, which came out in 2012.

Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email: efrench@mediasourceinc.com, Twitter: @lizefrench


  1. Liz French Liz French says:

    This is the first WWR column I haven’t contributed to since taking over the franchise. Feels odd! So here’s what I was reading during ALA 2014: I finished up Lee Child’s PERSONAL (Delcorte) on the flight to Vegas, read bits of Maureen Corrigan’s fantastic GREAT GATSBY treatise, SO WE READ ON (Little, Brown) whenever I had a free moment, and read a good chunk of Lauren Beukes’s horror thriller, BROKEN MONSTERS (Mulholland) on the flight back (which was a bit of a horror show itself).

  2. Great suggestions! My supervisor came back from ALA with arcs for all of us! I am settling into Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (Norton).

    • Liz French Liz French says:

      Yes, that sounds like a very good one. I saw her speak at an AAP breakfast (got a little too real when embalming methods came up) and I got even more interested in reading her memoir.

    • Henrietta Verma Henrietta Verma says:

      Ugh, yes. I spoke to her at ALA and mentioned that maybe a breakfast presentation wasn’t the best place for a discussion of how stomach contents are removed.

  3. Nann Hilyard says:

    Liz, when colleagues recommend ’em they’re worth looking up — thanks for the column.