Dillsburg Library Staff Picks for 2023

Read our Picks from 2023

With 2023 in the books (pun intended ), the staff at the library has reflected on some of the great books we read in the past year. So, the following, in no particular order, are our recommendations if you are looking for a good read.

Counting Lost Stars by Kim Van Alkemade

New York Times bestselling author of Orphan #8, Kim van Alkemade returns with a gripping and poignant historical saga in which an unmarried college student who’s given up her baby for adoption helps a Dutch Holocaust survivor search for his lost mother. The book alternates between the stories of characters living in two eras – 1960, New York City and 1941, The Hague. Of local note, Kim van Alkemade was a professor at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where she taught creative writing.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

A couple of us enjoyed this book. Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of a woman in a non-traditional profession, and all the discrimination she incurs during the late 1950s and early 1960s as she struggles to define her own life. At the end, there’s hope and healing, and the women and their male supporters win the day. If you ever wondered why second-wave feminists were angry in the 1960s and ’70s, reading this book will show you why.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This book was a beautiful memoir but also made me think about the way I garden and interact with the natural world. The scientific and cultural lessons were mixed into the story which made them more compelling and made me want to learn more about both botany and indigenous people.
There’s also a Young Adult Reader edition available.

Windyspring by Colin Darney

This is the third book in the series: The Chronicles of the Troop. I love coming back to the characters in this fantasy world once a year when a new book is released. It’s also fun to know the author, and hear his voice throughout the story.

Songbird Season by Melanie Lageschulte

Songbird Season is the fifth book in the Melinda Foster series. This is a well written story set in a small town. With no violence, it makes for a comfortable, easy read.

Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

This mystery takes place 20 years after 9/11. Filled with surprises, it will keep you turning pages until the very end!

Identity by Nora Roberts

Although I am not normally a fan of romantic suspense, Identity managed to pull me in to the story quickly. The nightmare of a stolen identity, the obstacles that come with it, and a serial killer on the loose kept the suspense building until the very end.

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner

This historical fiction book was both heart breaking and uplifting. It’s really two stories placed side by side, one, a young mother’s fight to keep her child, and the other, a firsthand view of Hitler seeking of hereditary purity.

Author Discovery

One staff member discovered a new author this past year, the Irish author Claire Keegan, well known for her short story collections and a past winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. We enjoyed three of her works in 2023.

Small Things Like These takes place in a small Irish town in the mid-1980s. During a delivery, a coal merchant makes a discovery at the local convent which forces him to confront his past and the secrets kept by a town controlled by the church.

Foster is the story of a young girl in rural Ireland who is sent to live with a farmer and his wife for a summer while her mother has yet another baby. Unexpectedly, the summer is filled with happiness for both the child and her foster family.

So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men is a collection of three short stories exploring human relationships and regrets.

Books for Children

We don’t want to forget the children! Two favorites from 2023 are Cloud Babies by Eoin Colfer and In Every Life by Marla Frazee.

Cloud Babies by Eoin Colfer

For a while I thought this was just a modernized book about finding shapes in the clouds. I’m glad I finally gave this a full read because it is really about hope and empathy and childhood illness. This is an amazing, approachable book for families to read about a difficult topic.

In Every Life by Marla Frazee

For some reason, I was touched by this book’s simple poem and the illustrations surrounding it. I read this book the same day I found out a friend had cancer, and it struck me as a beautiful reminder and prayer: “In every sadness, blessed is the comfort.” Children’s books are not just for children.

Come to the Library!

These and many other great reads are available to you at the Dillsburg Area Public Library. Stop by soon and pick up a few; maybe they’ll become your favorites in 2024!

(compiled by Wanda Newcomer)