We asked 's Frances Brawner and Susan Cozzens which books are flying off the shelves and which have recently graced their night stands. Whether you read them on an e-reader or prefer an old-fashioned paperback, these books come highly recomended.
1) "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
A captivating tale about a 22-year-old college graduate, a black maid raising her 17th white child and the maid's sassy tell-it-like-it-is friend whose cooking is nothing short of miraculous. The three unlikely friends come together in a way that society doesn't accept in 1962, when segregation was the rule of the land. "The Help" is a fictional masterpiece and has been a bestseller for nearly 100 weeks.
"This runaway hit has all the secret ingredients of a great read," Brawner said. "A meaty plot, racial and class conflicts, riveting characters and elegant writing."
2) "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen
"This fiction novel, with its coterie of exotic animals and circus performers, and their various entanglements is a perennial favorite with very wide appeal," Brawner said. Main character Jacob Jankowski highlights the ups and downs of his life as a traveling circus veterinarian. The plot is thick yet imaginative and playful yet serious. Brawner said the book is also being released as a feature film in April.
3) "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
From the author of "Seabiscuit" comes another heart-pounding tale set in the WWII era. The non-fiction novel is a fast-paced yet intricately detailed story about a man's three-year fight for survival against sharks, the Pacific heat and his Japanese captors.
"It's inspiring and hard to put down," Cozzens said.
4) "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot
"The Immmortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is a breezy and informative, personal yet impartial non-fiction novel," Cozzens said. "This remarkable story of a black woman's cancerous cervical cells that spawned a host of scientific advancements and jump-started the multi-billion dollar medical industry is a touching and compelling must-read."
5) "Room" by Emma Donoghue
This hard-to-put-down novel by Donaghue is a "gripping psychological drama within the confines of a 11x11 foot room," Brawner said. "A disturbing book about a mother and her son held captive by a terrifying man is sure to provoke interesting discussions long into the night."
All of these books are currently available at Westlake Porter Public Library, so get down there and crack a spine.