Reading Radar

Visit our Reading Radar pages when you need help choosing your next great read. Every couple of months we feature a different celebrity reader’s recommendations. Take a moment to browse through the Local Celebrity reading choices, then scroll down to see staff picks.

Local Celebrity Reader

Starting with Harold and the Purple Crayon, I have always craved books that are (or address the) strange in order to bring us home to great truths. I seek books that will move or awe me so much that I struggle between not being able to take in one bit more and not being able to stop.

I want books that awaken me, make me learn and think about the world, people, nature, art, thought, life, death. I want to be lifted out of my normal reality, ricocheted down previously unknown corridors of consciousness, surprised with an insight I might not have come to otherwise. It can be done simply (The Wishing Bone Cycle, Howard Norman) or spectacularly (His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman).

Magical realism
So my favorite fiction often has elements of magical realism—including thin places, spirit visitations, mystery, or mysticism, and my favorite nonfiction often has elements of realism that feel magical—like the science of astrophysics, the growth of forests, or the behaviors of all sorts of creatures from mammals to extremophiles. My favorite poetry reaches from the concrete near at hand, into the world out far, and touches me somewhere in deep.

Living outside my limits
Often, literature from or about other cultures (Latin American, Inuit, African, Eastern European) fascinates me, because of the similarities in our humanity, in the context of the differences in our environments and belief systems. Likewise, in further pursuit of living vicariously outside my own limits, I get excited when writers find new approaches to form and language, when hybrid combinations convene to expand the experience of reading, or when I feel challenged to participate in creating meaning, the way Harold did by drawing with his purple crayon to make sense of his dark world.

Reading helps me to go places I don’t normally get to go, to step outside my own head and into another place or time or mind. I am grateful for books that provide this kind of transportation.

Ask the Staff

Need more ideas on what to read next? Let us zero in on the right books for you.

  • Find a list of books each of us recommend by clicking the “About” buttons below.
  • Click the “Ask” links to get five suggestions by filling out a short form.

If none of us have listed the types of books you like, fill out this form instead.


Sci-Fi, Fantasy

About Niki
Ask Niki what to read

Mary Ellen

Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Historical Fiction

About Mary Ellen
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Chick Lit, British Fiction, World War II Nonfiction

About Kris
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Yoga, Biography, Dogs, Dog Training

About Margaret
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Teen Recommendations
Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Manga/Graphic Novels, Dystopian, Mystery/Thrillers

About Ashlee
Ask Ashlee what to read


Fantasy and Young Adult

About Elexys
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Fiction, Short Stories, Political Science, Sociology

About Mark
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Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Young Adult, Modern Literature, History, Popular Science

About Marita
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Literary Fiction, Memoir, Women’s Fiction, General Nonfiction

About Carol
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Teen Recommendations
Realistic Fiction, Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, Action/Adventure, Magical Realism, and LGBT

About Ashlee
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World Cultures, Food, Romance

About Tracy
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Jen M

Mystery, Historical Fiction, General Fiction

About Jen
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True Crime, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi, Biography

About Bryant
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History, Philosophy, Religion, Science

About Loren
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Children Recommendations
Nonfiction, Picture Books, Beginning Readers, Chapter Books

About Kathy
Ask Kathy what to read