Staff Picks

Looking to try something new? Check out these recommendations from staff.

Last updated 2/4/2023.

Laura (1944)

"Have you ever been in love?"
"A doll in Washington Heights once got a fox fur out of me."

"Laura," a 1944 American film noir produced and directed by Otto Preminger, is a love story, murder mystery, and multiple character study all at once. It's based on a novel by Vera Caspary.

The movie begins with the murder of the movie's heroine, Laura (seen in flashbacks) played by the beautiful and talented Gene Tierney. Dana Andrews is Mark McPherson, the detective assigned to the case, and as he interviews those who knew her, he becomes more and more enamored of Laura.

It doesn't hurt that there is a portrait of the gorgeous Tierney to fuel his grudging admiration as he tries to determine just who would want to kill this much sought-after, accomplished woman. And each person he interviews reveals as much about themselves as they do about Laura.

Dana Andrews does well as the no-nonsense, skeptical detective who basically begins to fall in love with a woman he knows he will never meet. Clifton Webb is a standout as acerbic but yearning columnist Waldo Lydecker, friend and Svengali to Laura, who delivers some of the film's most memorable quips. They receive admirable support by Vincent Price (in his pre-horror film icon days) and Dame Judith Anderson.

The noir's use of both Laura's portrait and the film's theme song by David Raskin as almost characters in the film help it stand out. Preminger's direction is solid and he successfully employs the wit of the script as he navigates the story's mesh of humor, mystery, and love.

The Master Key - Masako Togawa

The prize-winning debut mystery from one of Japan's best-loved crime writers.

The K Apartments for Ladies are occupied by over one hundred unmarried women, once young and lively, now grown and old—and in some cases, evil.

Their residence conceals a secret connecting the unsolved 1951 kidnapping of four-year-old George Kraft to the clandestine burial of a child's body in the basement bath-house. So, when news comes that the building must be moved to make way for a road-building project, more than one tenant waits with apprehension for the grisly revelation that will follow. Then the master key is lost, stolen and re-stolen—and suddenly no-one feels safe.

Fiendish intrigue, double identity and an ingenious plot make this a thriller worthy of comparison with the work of P.D. James.

Loveless - Alice Oseman

For fans of Love, Simon and I Wish You All the Best, a funny, honest, messy, completely relatable story of a girl who realizes that love can be found in many ways that don't involve sex or romance.

From the marvelous author of Heartstopper comes an exceptional YA novel about discovering that it's okay if you don't have sexual or romantic feelings for anyone . . . since there are plenty of other ways to find love and connection.

This is the funny, honest, messy, completely relatable story of Georgia, who doesn't understand why she can't crush and kiss and make out like her friends do. She's surrounded by the narrative that dating + sex = love. It's not until she gets to college that she discovers the A range of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum -- coming to understand herself as asexual/aromantic. Disrupting the narrative that she's been told since birth isn't easy -- there are many mistakes along the way to inviting people into a newly found articulation of an always-known part of your identity. But Georgia's determined to get her life right, with the help of (and despite the major drama of) her friends.

From Crook to Cook - Snoop Dogg

Looking for cookbooks with a little more personality? Welcome to tha Boss Dogg's Kitchen.

The first cookbook and recipe book from Tha Dogg, From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg's Kitchen. You've seen Snoop Dogg work his culinary magic on VH1's Emmy-nominated Martha and Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party, and now he's back with his first cookbook.

Recipe book that delivers 50 recipes straight from Snoop's own collection: Snoop's cookbook features OG soul food cookbook staples like

Plus new takes on classic weeknight faves like Soft Flour Tacos and Easy Orange Chicken and a taste of the high life with remixes on upper echelon fare such as Lobster Thermidor and Filet Mignon. 

How to Keep House While Drowning - K.C. Davis

This revolutionary approach to cleaning and organizing helps free you from feeling ashamed or overwhelmed by a messy home.

If you’re struggling to stay on top of your to-do list, you probably have a good reason: anxiety, fatigue, depression, ADHD, or lack of support. For therapist KC Davis, the birth of her second child triggered a stress-mess cycle. The more behind she felt, the less motivated she was to start. She didn’t fold a single piece of laundry for seven months. One life-changing realization restored her sanity—and the functionality of her home: You don’t work for your home; your home works for you.

In other words, messiness is not a moral failing. A new sense of calm washed over her as she let go of the shame-based messaging that interpreted a pile of dirty laundry as “I can never keep up” and a chaotic kitchen as “I’m a bad mother.” Instead, she looked at unwashed clothes and thought, “I am alive,” and at stacks of dishes and thought, “I cooked my family dinner three nights in a row.”

Building on this foundation of self-compassion, KC devised the powerful practical approach that has exploded in popularity through her TikTok account, @domesticblisters. The secret is to simplify your to-do list and to find creative workarounds that accommodate your limited time and energy. In this book, you’ll learn exactly how to customize your cleaning strategy and rebuild your relationship with your home, including:

-How to see chores as kindnesses to your future self, not as a reflection of your worth

-How to start by setting priorities

-How to stagger tasks so you won’t procrastinate

-How to clean in quick bursts within your existing daily routine

-How to use creative shortcuts to transform a room from messy to functional

With KC’s help, your home will feel like a sanctuary again. It will become a place to rest, even when things aren’t finished. You will move with ease, and peace and calm will edge out guilt, self-criticism, and endless checklists. They have no place here.

Efrén Divided - Ernesto Cisneros

Efrén Nava’s Amá is his Superwoman—or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved.

But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn’t return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México.

Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family.

Tuff Turf (1985)

Morgan Hiller (James Spader) is an intelligent but bullied teenager from Connecticut who relocates to Los Angeles with his strict mother and his father after his father's business goes under. Morgan befriends Jimmy Parker (Robert Downey Jr.) but struggles to make other friends. Trouble ensues when Morgan pursues bad girl Frankie Croyden (Kim Richards), whose sociopathic and psychopathic boyfriend Nick Hauser (Paul Mones) is the leader of a local gang who had a run in with Morgan during an attempted mugging of a businessman. Morgan soon finds pursuing Frankie comes with harsh consequences. Morgan learns some valuable, harsh and hard lessons, and finds out how far he is really willing to go for Frankie. Ultimately, Morgan must face and fight Nick and his gang to test the bounds of his honor, and his love for Frankie.

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.