Librarians’ Best Book Picks: Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, Louisiana

Few people are better equipped to offer book recommendations and suggestions than a librarian. In this series, learn what the nation’s best librarians are suggesting to their patrons–and which books have made the biggest impact on their lives.

By Alexis Neuville

In this installment, St. Charles Parish Library Assistant Director Vicki Nesting describes the “twisty, psychological thrillers” that are captivating her town’s readers, and “the diverse range of voices” being read by her library’s patrons.

How does your library compare to others? What’s its character?
“The St. Charles Parish Library is a small- to medium-sized library serving a suburban-rural area on the outskirts of the New Orleans area. We serve as the center of our community, offering a wide range of programming, services, and materials for all ages.”

What book do you recommend most, and why?
“I can’t say that there is any one book that I recommend most. It all depends on what the reader is interested in, and what I think will appeal to them. One book that I have enjoyed recommending to a wide variety of people is Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig, about an autistic teenager adopted from foster care who keeps wanting to go back to her original, abusive home to get her ‘baby doll.’ The book is by turns sweet and sad and funny, and the narrator’s voice is so authentic, she comes alive for the reader, despite the difficult subject matter.”

What book has made the greatest impact on you in your life?
“I think that would be The Town Beyond the Wall by Elie Wiesel. In it, Wiesel addresses the issue of those who stood by and watched the Nazis taking people away, and the importance of asking questions and speaking up against injustice. (Which, come to think about it, may be one of the reasons why I love Christina Dalcher’s VOX so much, since it addresses similar issues.)”

What’s the biggest trend or pattern you’ve noticed in past 3-6 months, in terms of what folks are reading?
“Over the past few years, there have been some interesting trends. Twisty psychological thrillers continue to be popular with readers since Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. The interesting one to me is the number of both fiction and nonfiction books about women of accomplishment who have previously gone unrecognized – books like Hidden Figures, Girl in Disguise, Rise of the Rocket Girls, etc. And, I am loving the diverse range of voices that are being published today, in books such as City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty, Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, and Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue.”

Who’s another great librarian you’d love to see in this series?
“Andrienne Cruz of the Azusa City Library. We have become friends through our participation in EarlyWord GalleyChat. I love seeing what she is reading, and I think she might be an even more eclectic reader than I am.”

Physical or ebook?
“Both. Sometimes it depends on the book.”

Last great book you’ve read?
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. Penny’s intelligent and thoughtful writing, along with the depth of her characters, keeps drawing me back to this series again and again, and she never disappoints.”

Favorite thing in or about your town?
“I like the peace and quiet of living in a smaller community, the neighborliness of people. But it’s nice to be close enough to New Orleans to go into the city for special events.”

Favorite bookstore?
“My favorite bookstore, Kaboom Books, moved out of New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina. The store is located in Houston, now. The owner, John Dillman, is one of the best reader’s advisors I know. He got to know his customers so well that often, when I would bring a stack of books up to the counter, he would go through the stack and remove books, telling me, ‘You don’t want that one.’ Although he might have made fewer sales in the short run, he built customer loyalty and, all these years later, I still have fond memories of shopping at his store.”

Favorite type of book to read?
“I’m a very eclectic reader. I read mystery, historical fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, women’s fiction, memoir, science fiction, general fiction–whatever captures my attention. But, I often tell people that my favorite genre is ‘book group fiction’ which, of course, is not a generally recognized genre. What I mean by that is that I like books with some meat to them, books about ideas or people that make you think or give you a different perspective on the world.”  

 

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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