Librarians’ Best Book Picks: Jordana Gross, The New York Public Library

Reading recommendations, what New Yorkers are checking out, and the book she chose over the classics.

By Celadon Staff

Jordana Gross is a Senior Adult Librarian for The New York Public Library at Staten Island’s South Beach Library, the smallest of its 92 branches. “Despite our size,” she says, “we have everything we need to serve our community, including a beach!”

What does the world get wrong about librarians?

The librarian stereotype is that we are all cranky old crones with cats as sidekicks, reading our lives away in some dusty dungeon. Not exactly a bad stereotype to have, but the reality of librarianship goes beyond a stack of books and a stigma. Librarians are diverse individuals who are united by a common curiosity: to share information, in its many formats, to the world.

What book has made the greatest impact on you?

I have an intense urge to name a noteworthy classic but it would be a lie, a ‘classy’ lie, but a lie nonetheless. The book that embarked my pining love affair with reading was A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. Reading is a sensory experience and I will always remember the wonderment I felt turning those pages and time traveling into a past where chivalry ruled the day.

What book do you recommend most and why?

This question is a librarian’s riddle since the answer is dependent solely upon the patron. Reader’s advisory is about connecting the right book with the right reader. It’s like finding the perfect magical wand at Ollivanders in Diagon Alley. For the avid reader on the hunt for something new, I always recommend debut authors.  A 2018 debut that has not steered me wrong is The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. It’s a book of assumptions and I promise, yours will be wrong.

Last great book you read?

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. The way the story unfolds is compelling; a true feat considering it is a work of nonfiction (not my usual cup of tea).

Read more: Check It Out: Librarians’ Best Book Picks

Favorite genre?

I am a self-labeled “genre snob.” I fall in love with a genre and read only that genre until I forsake it for something else. Currently, I am devouring anything and everything YA Fantasy related. I like living vicariously through teens destined to save entire realms. It’s my fountain of youth.

Favorite bookstore?

McKay Used Books in Manassas, VA is the foundation my personal library is built on. If you’ve been there, you know. It’s like your brain was unable to hold all of your imagination and it spilt out to find a home in endless aisles of books that cost less than a candy bar.

What’s the most unique or memorable book request you’ve gotten?

Patron: “I’m looking for this book I read about in the paper…it’s got a blue cover…. but it sounded really good!”

Me: “Could this be the one?” (pointing to my computer screen featuring the blue-ish cover of The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn)

Patron: “YES!”

What have been the biggest book trends at your library in the past 6 months?

New Yorkers love murder and mayhem. It’s a reading trend that will never die out, pun intended. That being said, I have noticed two emerging trends. The first being young protagonists stealing the stage in Adult Fiction. Prime examples of this are Only Child by Rhiannon Navin and My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. The second being books showcasing Asian culture and characters such as Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht, and the ever-popular Crazy Rich Asian series by Kevin Kwan.

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