OUR STAFF'S TOP 3
Below is a listing of each of our staff's current TOP 3 PICKS.  Each title is linked to one of our favorite independent bookstores where you can purchase the title.  Currently, our featured bookstore is Book People, located in Sioux City, Iowa. 
Book People, Sioux City, Iowa

Brian Spielbauer

 

1.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy ~ J. R. R. Tolkein

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the dwarf; Legolas the elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider. J.R.R. Tolkien's three volume masterpiece is at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale—a story of high and heroic adventure set in the unforgettable landscape of Middle-earth.

2.  A Tale of Two Cities ~ Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities portrays a world on fire, split between Paris and London during the brutal and bloody events of the French Revolution. After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille the aging Dr Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There, two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil lanes of London, they are all drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

3.  A Spell for Chameleon ~ Piers Anthony

Xanth was the enchanted land where magic ruled—where every citizen had a special spell only he could cast. It was a land of centaurs and dragons and basilisks.

For Bink of North Village, however, Xanth was no fairy tale. He alone had no magic. And unless he got some—and got some fast!—he would be exiled. Forever. But the Good Magician Humfrey was convinced that Bink did indeed have magic. In fact, both Beauregard the genie and the magic wall chart insisted that Bink had magic. Magic as powerful as any possessed by the King or by Good Magician Humfrey—or even by the Evil Magician Trent.

Be that as it may, no one could fathom the nature of Bink’s very special magic. Bink was in despair. This was even worse than having no magic at all . . . and he would still be exiled!

Kendall Geneser

1.  To Kill a Mockingbird ~ Harper Lee

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel--a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice--but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

2.  Lonesome Dove ~ Larry McMurtry

Set in the late 19th century, Lonesome Dove is an adventurous story of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. The narrative centers around two friends: Augustus McCrae, a reluctant rancher who has a way with women, and W. F. Call, whose talent for leadership conceals a secret sorrow. For Gus, Call, and the others who join the journey, the cattle drive is not only a daring and, perhaps, foolhardy endeavor, it comes to represent American dreams of the West.

3.  Winterdance:  The Fine Madness... Iditarod ~ Gary Paulsen

Paulsen and his team of dogs endured snowstorms, frostbite, dogfights, moose attacks, sleeplessness, and hallucinations in the relentless push to go on.

Victoria Arauz

1.  Of Mice and Men ~ John Steinbeck

They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.  Laborers in California's dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

2.  The House on Mango Street ~ Sandra Cisneros

Structured as a series of vignettes, it tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, a 12-year-old Chicana girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. Based in part on Cisneros's own experience, the novel follows Esperanza over the span of one year in her life, as she enters adolescence and begins to face the realities of life as a young woman in a poor and patriarchal community. Elements of Mexican-American culture and themes of social class, race, sexuality, identity, and gender are interwoven throughout the novel.

3.  Farenheit 451 ~ Ray Bradbury

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

Rodney Earle

 

1.  Hamlet ~ William Shakespeare

Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most popular, and most puzzling, play. It follows the form of a “revenge tragedy,” in which the hero, Hamlet, seeks vengeance against his father’s murderer, his uncle Claudius, now the king of Denmark. Much of its fascination, however, lies in its uncertainties.

Among them: What is the Ghost—Hamlet’s father demanding justice, a tempting demon, an angelic messenger? Does Hamlet go mad, or merely pretend to? Once he is sure that Claudius is a murderer, why does he not act? Was his mother, Gertrude, unfaithful to her husband or complicit in his murder?

2.  Beau Geste ~ Percival Christopher Wren

Beau, John and Digby Geste are brothers who join the Foreign Legion, where they fall under the rule of tyrannical Sergeant Markoff. Beau and John are assigned to Fort Zinderneuf, where Markoff tries to break their spirit, aware of a dark family secret concerning a fabulous jewel one of them carries. As tensions rise, Arabs attack the fort and rivalries must be thrown aside in a desperate battle for life.

3.  Les Miserables ~ Victor Hugo

After 19 years as a prisoner, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is freed by Javert (Russell Crowe), the officer in charge of the prison workforce. Valjean promptly breaks parole but later uses money from stolen silver to reinvent himself as a mayor and factory owner. Javert vows to bring Valjean back to prison. Eight years later, Valjean becomes the guardian of a child named Cosette after her mother's (Anne Hathaway) death, but Javert's relentless pursuit means that peace will be a long time coming.

WHAT IS YOUR TOP 3?
 
Please tell us your TOP 3, as well as your favorite INDEPENDENT bookstore, and we may feature you (and the bookstore) on this page!

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