Staff Picks: Best Books We Read in October

Covers of recommended books with text: The Best Books We Read In October

Welcome back to Staff Picks! After an extended break, we're back with great book recommendations from San José Public Library bloggers. Staff read some fascinating titles last month: fantasies, biographies, graphic novels, and everything in between. They want you to read them, too! I know I have added these to my TBR list! Let's jump right in!

Staff Picks

The DivinersThe Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic! It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession for the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power, that was the reason behind her exile from Ohio. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic occult symbol, Will is called to the scene and Evie realizes her gift could help catch the serial killer.

This was such a great read for October. It's a Thriller / Mystery with a paranormal aspect. The opening scene of this book is set at a party where a group of Flappers have decided to play a Ouija board! This scene in the book is just so CHILLING. I was automatically hooked from JUST the introduction. Don't be afraid of the size of this book because it is beyond worth it to read! Just read the intro and see if you can still put it down, because I couldn't after that opening scene. - Penelope Gomez

Spill ZoneSpill Zone by Scott Westerfeld

I intended on reading a few horror graphic novels before Halloween, but I only got the chance to read one. However, the one that I did read was the perfect mix of suspense, mystery, and surprise! The story follows Addison who lives nearby a place dubbed "The Spill Zone," which is the remnants of a city destroyed three years ago, still plagued by uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers from another dimension. Addison provides for her family by photographing the strange creatures and happenings, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean a fate worse than death.

Written by Scott Westerfeld, author of bestsellers including Uglies, is known for creating vivid dystopian worlds. I adored the bold and colorful illustrations, perfect for portraying the harsh and unforgiving environment. This sci-fi horror is just the right amount of twisted, and with several mysteries entwined throughout this story. I was at the edge of my seat the entire time. I highly recommend this chilling and addictive two-part series, Spill Zone followed by Spill Zone: The Broken Vow (which should be read in order) for anyone who enjoys a drive into the unknown. - Jessica Novak

The Beginning WoodsThe Beginning Woods by Malcolm McNeil

This Juvenile Fiction novel had me captivated from the moment I read the inside cover flap - I haven't had this much delight reading a book since I finished the Harry Potter series.

The entire world is experiencing a phenomenon of vanishings - people vanishing completely leaving only a pile of clothes behind. Strangely, this phenomenon only seems to affect adults. The vanishings may be linked to an 11-year old boy named Max who magically appeared on a book store shelf when he was a baby. With the help of witches, ghosts, dragons and other fantastical creatures, Max learns that the "real" world and the world of stories may not be as separate as they seem. - Dana Lema

Life in the GardenLife in the Garden by Penelope Lively

84-year-old novelist Lively explores her passions for art, literature, and gardening in this quiet, lovely memoir. She weaves together memories of gardens she’s known and gardening she’s done with literary, historical, and artistic gardens. This is a must-read for gardeners (and wanna-be’s with black thumbs like mine). - Stacy Tomaszewski

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic NovelAnne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel adapted by Mariah Marsden

Illustrated elegantly by Brenna Thummler with colors as vibrant as the title character, Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel will transport readers to Anne's beloved Avonlea. Mariah Marsden has adapted Anne's story to the graphic novel format without losing the integrity and emotion of the original material. Fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery's indomitable Anne will welcome the return to Green Gables, revisiting familiar characters and adventures, and new readers will delight in this gentle, yet poignant introduction to Anne's world. - Jacqueline Danziger

GrantGrant by Rob Chernow

I started to listen to Grant because the author Ron Chernow also wrote the biography about Alexander Hamilton that Lin-Manuel Miranda read, which inspired him to eventually create Hamilton: An American Musical. As I listened to the eAudiobook, I learned some interesting things about Grant that I won't spoil here. The biography recounts Grant's ups and downs during his life and draws upon Grant's memoirs as well as writings by other historical figures from the Civil War such as William Tecumseh Sherman. I also enjoyed listening to the narration by Mark Bramball, which is a major component of liking an audiobook! - Jessica Chung

Springfield ConfidentialSpringfield Confidential by Mike Reiss

Simpsons did it! For over 30 years the writers behind America's favorite cartoon show have been coming up with witty humor that has earned them numerous awards and the adoration of millions around the world. Springfield Confidential is a new book that is available through Cloud Library to San Jose Public Library patrons. The book is written by four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss who shares stories, scandals, and gossip about being on staff of one of the funniest shows of all time. - David Fournier

Forest of a Thousand LanternsForest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Description: An Asian twist on the Evil Queen from the Brother's Grimm fairy tales. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, XiFeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? - Goodreads

Why I love it: I'm not an audiobook lover, but I was immediately hooked from the very beginning. It literally felt as if I was listening to a movie. As a lover of fantasy, there was action, back-stabbing politics, and many more that will entrance you till the very end. My newest obsession. - Alyssa Mendoza

Paper GirlsPaper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn

Why we like this comic: it’s a paper girl crew (remember getting your newspaper delivered by paper boys? Remember newspapers?) that get caught up in a doozy of a time-travel adventure, and it all starts in the wee small hours of the morning after Halloween when they encounter a group of teenagers who happen to be from the future. The girls end up traveling back and forth in time, meeting future versions of themselves and becoming involved in The Battle of the Ages, an ongoing war against the Old-Timers. The style is seriously mesmerizing, and especially cool for anyone who actually remembers the ‘80s -- and newspapers! - Viewer's Advisory writers Lowell and Appleberry

Norse MythologyNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

While on a 12-hour road trip (there and back again), I listened to Norse Mythology - a retelling of the tales of Odin, Freya, Loki, and Thor by the author Neil Gaiman. This collection of myths includes Loki's participation in an eating contest against fire. Another fun one is Thor's challenge to pick up a frost giant's pet cat. What Thor doesn't know is that the cat is actually the magically disguised Midgard Serpent, a snake large enough to wrap around the entire circumference of the world. Many stories involve the Asgardians getting in way over their heads after being tricked and somehow getting out of their predicaments either by accident or by their own trickery in return.

Gaiman read the book himself, hilariously in some parts, somberly in others, and really made me appreciate all of the hidden sarcasm, jokes, and subtlety included in the book that I did not originally notice. The book does end with Ragnarok but instead of leaving the reader in a world full of ash, Gaiman gives us a new world of hope. - Megan Hicks

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