At the end of each year, the staff at the Topsfield Town Library chooses their favorite books, DVDs, and other materials. Those select items chosen win the prestigious Golden Gould award, named after the library’s benefactor George L. Gould. Only the best of the best will come away with a Golden Gould in 2022…so who will it be? In this post, we celebrate staff favorites for the year!
Looking for less prestigious award lists, like the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize in Literature, or Booker Prize? View our Award Winners reading list here.
Next week, visit as we highlight the top ten most borrowed items from the Topsfield Town Library in 2022, the second installment of the Golden Goulds!
The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan
Lots of details and fascinating musings in this book of essays. Bob Dylan’s observations and philosophies continue to amaze.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jenette McCurdy
I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jenette McCurdy is both a poignant look at struggling with an abusive parent in Hollywood, and also a candid, darkly funny book by a former Nickelodeon actor that sheds light on controversy within the Nickelodeon company. Though your background may be different, you may find yourself in McCurdy’s story, too.
Our Flag Means Death (TV Series) available streaming via HBO MAX
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Hyperion, a Hugo Award winning novel, is one of those rare books that seems to bridge the genres of classic science fiction and epic fantasy. The story follows a group of pilgrims on their way to Hyperion, a distant planet on the eve of invasion and destruction. It’s also home to a dangerous, powerful entity called the Shrike. The book tells each pilgrim’s story and how they came to be the last visitors to this dangerous place. The world building and character development are, dare I say it, out of this world.
People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn
Don’t be scared by the title, it’s not what you think. Winner of the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice. This non-fiction book of essays “challenges us to confront the reasons why there might be so much fascination with Jewish deaths, and so little respect for Jewish lives unfolding in the present” (Publisher’s website). With the alarming rise of attacks on Jewish communities across the globe, this book feels both timely and important; it asks the reader to reevaluate how we relate to history and the realities of the present. One particular example that has stuck with me is a recounting of a recent event at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam: one of the docents was asked to cover his yarmulke with a baseball cap so that he didn’t alienate visitors or make them feel uncomfortable. A museum dedicated to the life of a young girl forced to hide her Jewish identity was asking a Jewish man to hide his. Stories like that stay with you.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Poirot, one of Christie’s most beloved characters, never fails to delight. His unassuming countenance and brilliant mind make for a most enjoyable read. Christie’s writing is elegant and understated; her nuanced characters’ stories weave together to unfold into a satisfying conclusion. The writing style is certainly of its time, so if you’re expecting gore and flash, this might not be the book for you.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
To discover the truth behind her mother’s mysterious death, a teen girl infiltrates a magical secret society claiming to be the descendants of King Arthur and his knights…
Bloodmarked! by Tracy Deonn
When the leaders of the Order reveal that they will do everything in their power to keep the approaching demon war a secret, Bree and her friends go on the run so she can learn how to control her devastating new powers.
Losing our Minds: The Challenge of Defining Mental Illness by Lucy Foulkes, PhD
A compelling and incisive book that questions the overuse of mental health terms to describe universal human emotions Public awareness of mental illness has been transformed in recent years, but our understanding of how to define it has yet to catch up. Too often, psychiatric disorders are confused with the inherent stresses and challenges of human experience. A narrative has taken hold that a mental health crisis has been building among young people. In this profoundly sensitive and constructive book, psychologist Lucy Foulkes argues that the crisis is one of ignorance as much as illness. Have we raised a ‘snowflake’ generation? Or are today’s young people subjected to greater stress, exacerbated by social media, than ever before? Foulkes shows that both perspectives are useful but limited. The real question in need of answering is: how should we distinguish between ‘normal’ suffering and actual illness? Drawing on her extensive knowledge of the scientific and clinical literature, Foulkes explains what is known about mental health problems-how they arise, why they so often appear during adolescence, the various tools we have to cope with them-but also what remains unclear: distinguishing between normality and disorder is essential if we are to provide the appropriate help, but no clear line between the two exists in nature. Providing necessary clarity and nuance, Losing Our Minds argues that the widespread misunderstanding of this aspect of mental illness might be contributing to its apparent prevalence.
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill
Excerpt from Sean’s Review:
About halfway through, this book cranks into high gear and both plots create an incredibly engaging story. It is, so far, my favorite book of the summer and I cannot recommend it enough!
Read entire review
Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
To see the world through Jenny Slate’s eyes is to see it as though for the first time, shimmering with strangeness and possibility. As she will remind you, we live on an ancient ball that rotates around a bigger ball made up of lights and gasses that are science gasses, not farts (don’t be immature). Heartbreak, confusion, and misogyny stalk this blue-green sphere, yes, but it is also a place of wild delight and unconstrained vitality, a place where we can start living as soon as we are born, and we can be born at any time. In her dazzling, impossible-to-categorize debut, Slate channels the pain and beauty of life in writing so fresh, so new, and so burstingly alive that we catch her vision like a fever and bring it back out into the bright day with us, and everything has changed.
How to be Perfect by Michael Schur
From the creator of The Good Place and the co-creator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
For fans of A Man Called Ove, a luminous debut novel about a widow’s unlikely friendship with a giant Pacific octopus reluctantly residing at the local aquarium-and the truths she finally uncovers about her son’s disappearance 30 years ago.
Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
Loosely based on a school explosion that took place in New London, Texas in 1937, this is the story of two teenagers: Naomi, who is Mexican, and Wash, who is black, and their dealings with race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people.