KPL Staff Picks: Best of 2016

What We Liked This Year

Ever wonder what Kalamazoo Public Library staff members are reading, watching, or listening to? These are some of the books, music, and movies that we thought were the best in 2016. What were your favorites?

More to come, watch for frequent updates!

Best of: 20172016 | 2015 | 20142013 | 2012 | 20112010


Ann Rohrbaugh

Library Director


The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner

Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon


Witness to the Revolution by Clara Bingham

March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Detroit Resurrected by Nathan Bomey

American Treasures by Stephen Puleo

The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding




Amy Alcenius-Hoisington

Adult Services Librarian


Vargic's miscellany of curious maps : mapping the modern world by Martin Vargic

The Bob’s Burgers burger book : real recipes for joke burgers by Loren Bouchard and the writers of Bob’s Burgers; recipes by Cole Bowden

Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Audiobook series on Hoopla)

The Nordic theory of everything : in search of a better life by Anu Partanen

The mysterious Benedict Society Series written by Trent Lee Stewart

Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Runaways Series by Brian K. Vaughn

The essential Dykes to watch out for by Alison Bechdel

The complete America’s test kitchen TV show cookbook, 2001-2017 by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen

Aarti Paarti : an American kitchen with an Indian soul by Aarti Sequeira  




Kit Almy

Library Aide


Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Chicago by Brian Doyle

Trespasser by Tana French


You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

I Was a Child by Bruce Eric Kaplan


Everybody Wants Some!!

Hail, Caesar!

Money Monster


Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording




Bill Caskey

Children’s Room Lead Librarian

Youth Fiction

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

Free Verse by Sarah Dooley

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers

Makoons by Louis Erdrich

Pax by Sarah Pennypacker

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown 

Children’s Nonfiction

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman

Hip Hop Speaks to Children : A celebration of poetry with a beat edited by Nikki Giovanni

I Hear a Pickle : (and smell, see, touch, and taste it, too!) by Rachel Isadora

The Singing Bones : Inspired by Grimms' fairy tales by Shaun Tan

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant

The Way to School by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International

Picture Books

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson

Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan

Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas by Yuya Morales

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer  

Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzal

The Worst Breakfast by China Mieville

Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer   

Adult Fiction

Barkskins by Annie Proulx

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Adult Nonfiction

Banjo : an illustrated history by Bob Carlin

The Fire this Time: A new generation speaks about race edited by Jesmyn Ward

The Grid: The fraying wires between Americans and our energy future by Gretchen Bakke

The Human Superorganism : How the microbiome is revolutionizing the pursuit of a healthy life by Rodney Dietert

Level Up Your Classroom: The Quest to Gamify your Lessons and Engage Your Students by Jonathan Cassie

Overcomplicated : Technology at the limits of comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

Pushout : The criminalization of Black girls in schools by Monique W. Morris 


Lemonade by Beyoncé

We Got it All from Here…Thank you For Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest

Fall Away Blues by Red Tail Ring

I Walked Abroad by Premo & Gustavsson

Blackstar by David Bowie  




Amy Chase

Children’s Librarian

Adult Fiction

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Juvenile Fiction

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes

Raymie Nightingale  by Kate DiCamillo

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (audio book)

I Hear a Pickle by Rachel Isadora

Teen Fiction

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds 





Rock ‘n’ Roll Party: Honoring Les Paul by Jeff Beck

All the People Said Amen by Matt Maher








Angela Fortin

Librarian, Oshtemo Branch Library


Swing Time by Zadie Smith

The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies

Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair

Look by Solmaz Sharif

The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May

Samarkand: Recipes and Stories From Central Asia and the Caucasus by Caroline Eden

Movies & Television



Love and Friendship

The Fits

The Invitation

Broad City season 3

Insecure season 1

Transparent season 3

High Maintenance season 1

Luke Cage season 1


Lemonade by Beyoncé

A Seat At the Table by Solange

The Dreaming Room by Laura Mvula

Cashmere by Swet Shop Boys 

A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke by Vijay Iyer

We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest

Love and Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

Blonde by Frank Ocean

Freetown Sound by Blood Orange

You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen




Stewart Fritz

Youth Librarian


The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota

Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Cat Rackham by Steve Wolfhard

Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

Rosalie Lightning by Tom Harty

Dodgers by Bill Beverly

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Trashed by Derf 



Swiss Army Man

The Lobster

Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound

Doctor Strange



Midnight Special

10 Cloverfield Lane


Is The Is Are by DIIV

A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

Schmilco by Wilco

Strange Trails by Lord Huron

Wildflower by The Avalanches

The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock

SVIIB by School of Seven Bells

Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not by Dinosaur Jr.

We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service by A Tribe Called Quest 






Milan Harden

Reference Associate


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughn

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3, Squirrel you really got me by Ryan North

Something New by Lucy Knisley

One Child : the story of China’s most radical experiment by Mei Fong



Love and Friendship

Only Yesterday

Star Trek Beyond


Lemonade by Beyoncé

A Seat at the Table by Solange

Joanne by Lady Gaga

Chapters by Yuna





Christine Hann

Government Information Coordinator


Raising Ryland: Our story of Parenting a Transgender Child with no Strings Attached by Hillary Whittington

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Steetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow

Grandma lives in a perfume Village by Fang Suzhen, illustrated by Sonja Danowski

I Will Send Rain  by Rae Meadows

The Art of Whimsical Stitching  by Joanne Sharpe

This road I ride : sometimes it takes losing everything to find yourself  by Juliana Buhring

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato 

Movies & Television


Finding Dory

Grace and Frankie – Season One

Inside Out

The Lady in the Van






Mikki Henry

Youth Outreach Associate


The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest 

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louis Bourgeois by Amy Novesky, pictures by Isabelle Arsenault

Carry On : The rise and fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

Lair of Dreams : a Diviners novel by Libba Bray

Hot Pink : The life & fashions of Elsa Schiaparelli by Susan Goldman Rubin

The Imitation Game : Alan Turing decoded by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Leland Purvis

Take It as a Compliment by Maria Stoian

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Movies & Television


How to Get Away with Murder


Lost en Los Angeles by Kari Faux

Young in all the Wrong Ways by Sarah Watkins

Lemonade by Beyoncé

Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor

The Beat is Dead by Nina Diaz








Keith Howard

Web Coordinator


The Revenge of Analog:  Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

Drinking in America : Our secret history by Susan Cheever (2015)

Movies & Television

Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music

Vinyl: The Complete First Season

Before the Flood (National Geographic film)

The Revenant  


Blue Mountain by Bob Weir

See Through The Eyes Of Osiris! by The Red Sea Pedestrians

Patch the Sky by Bob Mould 

Acoustic Recordings 1998–2016 by Jack White 

The Early Years 1967-1972, Creation by Pink Floyd

b’lieve i’m goin down... by Kurt Vile

Shouted, Written Down, & Quoted by Greensky Bluegrass

The 1966 Live Recordings by Bob Dylan

Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/1969 by Jimi Hendrix

57th & 9th by Sting

Always Going To Be Here/Let Me In  (7” single) by Joshua Davis




Anastasia Huber

Library Aide


Paper Girls by Brian Vaughan

Ghosts by Riana Telgemeier

Lumberjanes Vol. 3

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowrey

Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In by Bernie Sanders

Trashed by Derf Backderf (2015)

Movies / TV

The Knick Season 2



Hail, Ceasar!

High Rise


The Fear of 13

Wayward Pines





Alex Hudson

Library Assistant


A Gentleman in Moscow  by Amor Towles

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson

The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley







Kiersten Jouppi

Library Assistant, Youth Services—Teens


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The Head of the Saint by Sarah Vowell 

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Emperor of Anyplace by Tim Wynne-Jones

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnson












Jill Lansky

Library Associate, Youth Services - Teen


Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson  

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Tru and Nelle by G Neri

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alefrinka and Martin Ganda

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson

Raymie Nighengale by Kate DiCamillo

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Are We There Yet?  by Dan Santat

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen  




Kristen Larson

Cataloging Librarian


No Baggage by Clara Bensen  

Dodgers by Bill Beverly

The Father by Anton Svensson

When Strangers Meet by Kio Stark

A School of Our Own by Samuel Levin






Irrational Man

The Revenant

Where to Invade Next


Hungry Hearts

Infinitely Polar Bear






Tady Lewis

Administration Aide


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Henna House by Nomi Eve


Ruminations by Conor Oberst

Fallen Angels by Bob Dylan

Blackstar by David Bowie

You Want it Darker by Leonard Cohen 





Elyse Malnekoff

Library Aide, Eastwood & Powell


Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

How to Cook a Tart by Nina Killham

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Graphic Novels

The Rocketeer: The Complete Series by Dave Stevens

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

Princeless. Book 1, Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, M. Goodwin, Jung-Ha Kim, and Dave Dwonch  

Movies & Television

Doctor Who (9th Doctor and onwards)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople



Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir


Ratchet & Clank

When Marnie Was There

Whisper to the Heart

Flying Witch (anime seen on Crunchyroll)






Alex Merrill

Library Assistant, Local History and Youth Services

Children’s Picture Books

Call Me Tree - Llámame árbol by Maya Gonzalez

I Am Yoga by Susan Verde

Hoopla Digital Audiobook

Book of Numbers: a Novel by Joshua Cohen

Hoopla Digital Television

Music and the Brain (The Great Courses)




John Meyers

Facilities Specialist


A man called OVE by Fredrik Backman

The Lost Boy: a novel by Camilla Läckberg

Fast after 50 : how to race strong for the rest of your life by Joe Friel

Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar & Co.  by Gary Erickson


Super 8

The Revenant

The Way


Heligoland by Massive Attack

The Eraser by Thom Yorke

So Close to Life by Moonlit Sailor

Either / Or by Elliot Smith




Sarah Nyenhuis

Youth Services Library Assistant

Children’s Picture Books

A Big Surprise for Little Card  by Charise Mericle Harper, illustrated by Anna Raff

Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story about Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

The Liszts by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julia Sarda

Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West  by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Robin James

Let’s Go to the Hardware Store by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix 

Children’s Nonfiction

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost, illustrated by Rick Lieder

Circle by Jeannie Baker

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre  

Adult Fiction

The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal

The Girls: a novel by Emma Cline

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner 

Adult Nonfiction

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein

Navel Gazing by Michael Ian Black

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Falling: a Daughter, a Father, and a Journey Back by Elisha Cooper 


Captain Fantastic

The Jungle Book


Kubo and the Two Strings







Steve Siebers

Lead Librarian, Washington Square


The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders

Wonder by R. J. Palacio


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Searching For God in the Sixties by David Williams

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell

Our Great Big American God by Matthew Turner

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Neurotribes by Steve Silberman

The Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald May

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery    




Matt Smith

Librarian, Lead Materials Selector


Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram Kendi

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Women After All by Melvin Konner

Modern Homebrew Recipes by Gordon Strong

Unequal Gains by Peter Lindert

From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime by Elizabeth Hinton

A Journey Through Philosophy in 101 Anecdotes by Nicholas Rescher  









Andrea Vernola

Lead Librarian, Teen Services

Adult Books

Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Love, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I Know How She Does It: how successful women make the most of their time by Laura Vanderkam

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi    

Teen Books

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

March: Book Three by John Lewis

Chapter Books

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

Quiet Power: the secret strengths of introverts by Susan Cain

Wet Cement: a mix of concrete poems by Bob Raczka

Picture Books

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

What Do You Do With a Problem? By Kobi Yamada

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers






Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel-Miranda

Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Hamilton Mixtape

True Sadness by the Avett Brothers




Susan Warner

Head, Youth Services

Children’s Books

The Inquisitors Tale, or The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Free Verse by Sarah Dooley

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sarah Pennypacker

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano  

Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney

Booked by Kwame Alexander

The Best Man by Richard Peck

Adult Fiction

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

The Last Painting of Sarah DeVos by Dominic Smith

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Martin Marten by Brian Doyle

As Good as Gone by Larry Watson

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Adult Nonfiction

Selected Poems of Donald Hall

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jessmyn Ward





Valerie Wright

Vice President, KPL Board of Trustees


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalie Holt

City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White by Kareem Abdul Jabbar

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

The Fire This Time by Jesmyn Ward

Believer by David Axelrod  


The Lady in the Van

Only Yesterday