person petting a cat who is laying beside an open book, a mug of coffee rests nearby.
Check it Out

The Librarian's Nightstand - Winter 2024

Reading time is any time—but deep-freeze winter months are especially suited to hibernating with a stack of must-reads.

The Picks

Check out the titles our branch librarians recently read and loved.

Aldershot & Brant Hills Branch Librarian Kathleen

headshot of Kathleen beside the book cover of the Story of Us

The Story of Us by Catherine Hernandez follows Mary Grace (MG) from the Philippines, who travels overseas as a personal support worker. While working as a nanny in Toronto, mistreatment from the families leaves her searching for a new job. MG finds a position caring for an older woman with Alzheimer’s and develops a special friendship.

Told from the unique perspective of MG’s unborn baby, who replays the story of her mother’s life from inside the womb, this narrative adds a childlike softness to an otherwise heavy series of events. The novel offers an engaging and empathetic look at those in society who are often neglected, disrespected, or misunderstood. It’s a touching story of found family and our sacrifices for those we love.

Kathleen enjoys historical and contemporary fiction, widely spanning time and place and will especially dive headfirst into a family saga story (think Greenwood by Michael Christie or Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim). She loves reading to learn about different people, places, and perspectives!

Alton Branch Librarian Heather

headshot of Heather beside the book cover of Queen Charlotte

Before the Bridgertons came the love story that changed the ton… It's  1761, and German Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz marries King George III. In her new role, she navigates the intricate politics of the court while guarding her heart as she fights for herself, her husband, and all her new subjects who look to her for guidance and grace. Queen Charlotte by Julia Quinn gives depth and history to the Bridgerton world and is an excellent read for any fan.

Heather dives into dramatic family sagas and historical fiction as her go-to audiobook picks and reaches for romantic beach novels and light mysteries for her leisure reading. Her favourite authors include John Green, Liane Moriarty, and Edward Rutherfurd.

Central Branch Librarian Emma

headshot of Emma beside the book cover of Tom Lake

I recently finished Ann Patchett's ninth and newest novel, Tom Lake. In the spring of 2020, Lara's three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theatre company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls her past, her daughters are forced to reconsider everything they thought they knew.

I listened to this moving novel narrated by Meryl Streep and was instantly transported to the picturesque family cherry orchard. Both emotional and profound, this story explores youthful love, married love, and the lives of parents before having children. If you enjoy richly detailed character-driven stories, this book is for you.

Emma likes to tuck into contemporary and historical fiction, young adult novels, and memoirs. She lists Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Lovely War by Julie Berry, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh as her favourite novels.

New Appleby Branch Librarian Kumkum

headshot of Kumkum beside the book cover of The Mystery Guest

In a grand hotel tearoom, a renowned author dies from poisoned tea, collapsing onto a terrified trainee maid at a press conference. Police and the reader navigate red herrings and a list of suspects to uncover the killer. Molly, the Head Maid, is both investigator and suspect, harbouring a secret connection with the deceased. This cozy mystery shifts between the present and Molly's childhood visits to the author's spooky home.

The second stand-alone Maid novel by Nita Prose features familiar characters, a grand setting, and upbeat storytelling. With her neuro-divergent mind, challenges, and endearing traits, Molly's evolving character adds a unique touch to the delightful narrative.

Borrow The Mystery Guest: A Maid Novel or check the first novel, The Maid, if you still have yet to read it.

Kumkum often reads two to three books at a time, selecting from various genres, including mysteries and thrillers, relationship fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, memoirs, and non-fiction.

Tansley Woods Branch Librarian Deepti

headshot of Deepti beside the book cover of The Matchmaker's Gift

I read The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman after a customer recommended it to me, and I am so happy they did. This is heartwarming, charming, feel-good, magical historical fiction with lovable characters. The main characters are a grandma, a talented and gifted Matchmaker, and the granddaughter, an aspiring divorce lawyer struggling with loneliness and grief. 

The story develops as the granddaughter inherits her grandmother's journals and starts reading them. She learns about her grandmother's special gift of matchmaking and her struggles to become a matchmaker in the 1900s when it was a male-dominated profession. It's a story of Jewish tradition, family relations and the struggles of two women of two generations to prove themselves. It was a very enjoyable read, and I finished it with a smile.

Teacher-turned-librarian, Deepti, loves a good suspense mystery—especially books by master storyteller, Jeffrey Archer—or young adult fiction adventures. Her favourite read of 2022 was One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus.

Find Your Next Great Read

Library staff are a great resource for reading recommendations. Of course, they have their personal favourite genres and authors, but they also keep a close eye on top picks from all corners of our collection.

When you visit the library, don’t be shy about asking for your “next great read.” Or try out our Handpicked For You service and get suggestions from our book-loving staff based on your past favourites and reading interests. You can also browse our curated Staff Picks lists online for thoughtful booklists on a wide variety of topics.

Happy reading!