Patch Staffers Recommend Top Books

Before you grab a book from the library or the bookstore, check in with what Patch Staffers say are some of their favorite reads!


In Patch's ongoing committment to summer reading, the staff decided to team up and offer our readers some of our favorite books.

So take a look at the "Patch Bookshelf." You might find your next favorite book on it!

Patch Staffer Book Why we recommend it! Rachel Feddersen, Chief Content Officer of Patch.com You Must Remember This: An Oral History of Manhattan from the 1890s to World War II (Jeff Kisseloff) A gripping, many-voiced account of life as it was really lived in Manhattan a hundred years ago. Though their backgrounds are wildly diverse, the multiple narrators, some who grew up in poverty and some in marble mansions on Fifth Avenue, share a talent for sharing the vivid detail, giving a sense of immediacy to their stories, be they about slums, servants, or sex.   Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson) How does Stephenson get a coherent narrative out of a multigenerational story of World War II spies, modern hackers, and the cryptology that links their stories? I'm not sure, but after slogging through the first couple of chapters I'm finding myself borne along on the tide of adventure as one group of men tries to crack German war ciphers and the other works to create their own safe haven for encrypted data. Tons of humor, puzzles, and some great observations about the weird ways humans operate. Danielle Masterson, Woburn Patch Editor
Prince of Thieves (Chuck Hogan) Although it's more commonly known as "The Town"—the movie that was based on Chuck Hogan's novel—Prince of Thieves is even more riveting than the film. Anyone from the area will appreciate Hogan's accurate depiction of Charlestown, which is like driving over to the city yourself and spending the day there. The main character, Doug—the Prince of Thieves—will steal your heart. And maybe all the money in your bank.
  The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath) A story that's heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, Sylvia Plath takes you through her mental breakdown in the 1950s. Plath begins to unravel while interning in New York City, before returning home to Wellesley where she makes several attempts at suicide. As readers, we make these attempts with Plath and hope that she will survive the Bell Jar of depression.  
Rich Hosford, Burlington Patch Editor
Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars (David Sanger) A very interesting look behind the scenes in how the Obama administration has been handling foreign policy and an examination of potential future risks to U.S. national security.
The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) Get started on J.R.R. Tolkien's great works on Middle Earth with this classic. Also a great time to read the book before the movie comes out this winter.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) This four-part 'trilogy" is a fun read perfect for summer.
Roberto Scalese, Associate Regional Editor
A Visit From the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan) It won the Pulitzer a couple of years ago so people should be familiar with it, but it's an amazing book about what it means to grow up and how that does or doesn't change fundamentally who we are.
Then We Came to the End (Joshua Ferris) One of the funniest books I've read in years, it's the story of an office's staff during a period of layoffs. Written in the first-person plural, it's pure joy to watch the herd peel sacrifice its weakest members in an effort to save itself. Charlie Breitrose, Watertown Local Editor
A Death in Belmont (Sebastian Junger)
It provided a great look into the Boston area in the early 60s when the Boston Strangler was killing women. A murder that occurred in Belmont (the town's first!) was blamed on an African-American man who had been working in town that day. Junger provided great details about the investigation, the suspects and the people involved, including his own mother and father. Ashley Troutman, North Reading-Reading Local Editor
The Life and Times of a Thunderbolt Kid (Bill Bryson) A light and funny summer read.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers) Looking for something to move you? This memoir will tug on your heart strings and make you laugh at the same time. Becca Manning, Needham Local Editor
The Rook (Daniel O'Malley) It hooked me from the first line and kept me excited to read at a time when I was picking up a lot of books but having trouble staying with them. It's sort of sci fi/fantasy but based in modern-day London, so it's very accessible to those who don't like to delve into the sometimes dense alien worlds of science fiction series. Fans of Christopher Moore (I am one) will probably like this book, which is O'Malley's first. "The Rook" tells the story of a sort of "Men in Black" agency for supernatural phenomena—dealing with everything from vampires to weird, man-eating mold, but it's also about a mysterious conspiracy within the agency, which you unravel through the POV of a strong, clever female character. The book is smart, funny and full of action, with well-drawn characters you'll either love or love to hate. Abby Jordan, Associate Regional Editor
Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese)
I recommend this book because it transported me to world I haven't been to before. The story is a unique one and a real page turner. As you follow the main characters through the pages of the book, your imagination is captivated by the scenic details, personal relationships and life's travails.
Brooklyn Lowery, Wayland Local Editor
The Prodigal God (Timothy Keller) I relish the imagination and freshness of a good novel, but I also like the challenge of rethinking a well-known story from time to time—hence, "The Prodigal God." It examines the parable of "The Prodigal Son"—which I've known for as long as I can remember—with a focus on what can be learned from the behavior of the two sons, rather than the response of the "Father." Karla Vallance, Regional Editor
Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3, Suzanne Collins)
Collins has clearly hit a nerve with first teens and now adults; she's nailed the zeitgeist. I started for that reason, and stayed, finding myself transported, as with every book, to another world. Not a world we want, but still.

Rolling Away the Stone: Mary Baker Eddy's Challenge to Materialism (Stephen Gottschalk)
I particularly liked the insightful (and heart-rending) comparison of how two people, author Mark Twain and founder of the Christian Science religion, Mary Baker Eddy, responded differently to difficulties and tragedy in their lives.

War & Peace (Leo Tolstoy, Richard Pevear translation)
Classics are classics for a reason, right? Tolstoy's tome is the first on my list of "classics I missed." Plus, I'm curious about early 19th-century Russia (and the power of Napoleon). I still don't get why we as Americans play the 1812 Overture on our Independence Day, when it's all about the Russians trying to beat back those French troops...
Andy Sylvia, Westford Local Editor On the Road (Jack Kerouac) My name in Chinese is "Heart of Road," which is kind of close to the title of this one. Plus he's from Lowell, which is right down the street from Westford.
Susan Manning, Regional Editor
The Next Best Thing (Jennifer Weiner)
Jennifer Weiner is an author with whom you can't go wrong. I'd call her chick lit, but she's so much more. Perhaps it's because she started out like me—a journalist—but I have a soft spot in my heart and on my bookshelves for her! My all-time favorite is still her first—Good in Bed. Cannie, replaced Holden Caufield as my favorite protagonist the minute I started the book. I just bought her latest—The Next Best Thing—and look forward to reading it this week and indulging in my favorite past time on the deck, with a cold drink and my dogs. As you can tell, I can't say enough about this Philly-based author. And how could I? She brings free cupcakes to all her book readings!
Ryan Grannan-Doll, Waltham Local Editor Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob (Gerard O'Neill & Dick Lehr) It's a great read for anybody wanting to checkup on the history of the Whitey Bulger case before the trial starts.
Big Russ & Me (Tim Russert)
This is a great book for anybody who wants to gain a deeper insight into the mind and behavior of fathers.
How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else (Michael Gill) This is a great human story and way to have insight into keeping perspective on life when circumstances are against you. Grahame Turner, Brookline Local Editor The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability (Javier Grillo-marxuach and Les Mcclaine)
It's a graphic novel that is a love letter to nerd culture, and captures the 20-something mood. In it, Wendy Watson, a young artist turned temp, becomes a sidekick to a superhero known only as The Middleman, who solves "exotic" problems, ranging from super-intelligent gangster apes to a secret order of Mexican wrestlers

Now it's your turn! Tell us in the comments what you recommend and why!

Sean O'Donnell July 25, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I'm personally a fan of James Joyce's 'Ulysses'. The entire story is written as a day in the life narrative following a few characters in Dublin. If you're interested in people, how they think, what they do, why the do it, then this book is a great read.
Mary MacDonald July 25, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I'm reading "Lush Life" again by Richard Price. It's about a murder in New York. He's best known for "Clockers" but I like the way he describes New York and its neighborhoods and the characters sound like real people, not 'characters'...
Danielle Horn July 25, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Berto, I second your recommendation for Joshua Ferris' book - The Unnamed is a good one, too.
Dave Lenane July 26, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Anything by Dennis Lehane! Can't wait for his new one "Live by Night"....but if you like mysteries the Kenzie and Gennaro series is the best!
Brenda Crawshaw July 26, 2012 at 02:54 AM
South of Broad by Pat Conroy - you never see it coming and he's such a rich writer that you feel a vacuum when the book ends. Any of Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon novels - intrigue, art, mystery, you cannot put the book down! ANYTHING by Jennifer Weiner - as said above, her style transcends "chick lit" and brings her characters to life such that you would swear you have met them.


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