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Beyond the Desk

Beyond the Desk

By West Allis Public Library
A West Allis Public Library podcast about books, resources, lifelong learning and what makes this Milwaukee area community great. Join WAPL librarians as they chat with fellow staffers, authors, neighbors and each other about stories that moved them—and that they hope will inspire you.
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The Maid
This month librarians Elizabeth, Sarah and Desirae discuss the bestselling mystery The Maid by Nita Prose. It follows a hotel maid whose tidy life is turned upside down when she becomes a murder suspect. We fell in love with Molly the Maid, and we think you will, too! Also mentioned: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, the Shady Hollow mystery series by Juneau Black, and Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple mysteries by Agatha Christie. Check out books at, and For more about WAPL, visit Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
April 25, 2022
Erica Ruth Neubauer & Juneau Black
Mystery fans, take note! WAPL librarian Sarah chats with local writers Erica Ruth Neubauer, author of the Jane Wunderly mysteries, and Sharon Nagel, co-author of the Shady Hollow mysteries. They cover the influence of Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew as well as the process of writing and getting published. Titles and authors discussed in this episode include: Murder at the Mena House, Murder at Wedgefield Manor and Danger on the Atlantic by Erica Ruth Neubauer, and Shady Hollow, Cold Clay and Mirror Lake by Juneau Black. Also mentioned: Elizabeth Peters; Miracle Creek by Angie Kim; Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver; Sue Grafton; Elizabeth Cole; Louise Penny; Countess of Harleigh mysteries by Dianne Freeman; Jasmine Guillory; Tessa Dare; Sarah MacLean; Finlay Donovan Is Killing It and Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano; and Murder at the Mansions by Sara Rosett. Check out books at, and For more about WAPL, visit Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
March 25, 2022
What We’re Reading 2
Librarians Sarah and Katie chat about what they’re currently reading and new books on their to-read list. They riff on short stories, memoirs, mysteries, family reads, the ’90s and more. Plus, they talk about novels versus short stories and what BookTok offers readers. Titles and authors discussed in this episode include: These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card, The Wreckage of My Presence by Casey Wilson, The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk, Starfish by Lisa Fipps, and Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston. Also mentioned: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi; A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips; The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman; Jackson Brodie mysteries by Kate Atkinson; Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan; The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee; Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang; The Nineties, Killing Yourself to Live, and Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman; I Came All This Way to Meet You by Jami Attenberg; It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey; Best Wishes, Warmest Regards by Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
February 25, 2022
Read Black Authors
WAPL librarians Sarah and Desirae discuss fabulous fiction by Black authors. They chat about Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, as well as other novels they recommend. Plus, they talk about why some audiobooks delight them and others annoy them, as well as why they aren’t put off by unlikable characters. Titles and authors discussed in this episode include: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton, These Toxic Things and Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall, and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Also mentioned: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and the films Passing and Imitation of Life. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
January 28, 2022
YA Books for Adults
Join librarians Sarah and Katie for a conversation about Firekeeper’s Daughter, as well as other great YA books you’ll love—no matter what your age happens to be. Titles and authors discussed in this episode include: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley; Time Will Tell by Barry Lyga; In the Wild Light and The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner; The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater; Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein; Angie Thomas; Long Way Down, Ghost and Miles Morales: Spider-man by Jason Reynolds; and Tiffany D. Jackson. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
December 28, 2021
Favorite Reads 2021, Part 2
Join us for the second half of our conversation about the best books we read this year! Librarians Sarah and Desirae, along with WAPL book club members Michele and Heather, chat about food, paranormal romance and reimagining Greek myths. Part 2 of 2. Titles discussed in this episode include: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, Eight Ways to Tequila (An Althea Rose Mystery) by Tricia O'Malley, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, and Neon Gods by Katee Robert. Also mentioned: The Siren Island series and the Mystic Cove series by Tricia O'Malley; The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich; the TV series Only Murders in the Building; The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller; Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann; Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood; Lore Olympus, Volume 1 by Rachel Smythe; Millennial Nuns by Daughters of St. Paul; Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart; One Day in December by Josie Silver; Middlegame and the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire; State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny; and Louise Penny’s Three Pines mysteries. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
December 13, 2021
Favorite Reads 2021, Part 1
Librarians Sarah and Desirae welcome WAPL book club members Michele and Heather for a conversation about the best books we read this year. We talk about inspiring characters who overcame obstacles, stories that delve into parent-child dynamics, and the impact of social media—and how the future might look. Part 1 of 2. Titles discussed in this episode include: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab, Educated by Tara Westover, The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker, Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, Followers by Megan Angelo, and the “Nosedive” episode of Black Mirror from Season 3. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
November 27, 2021
What We’re Reading Now
In this grab bag episode, librarians Elizabeth and Sarah talk about recent reads—mainly mysteries and memoirs—as well as giving themselves permission to give up on a book and grab another from the to-read pile. They also share how they discover books and why you should try listening to audiobooks on the Hoopla app, which is free to access with your library card. Titles discussed in this episode include: Committed by Adam Stern, the TV series In Treatment, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, Cultish and Wordslut by Amanda Montell, The Guest List and The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, One by One and The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, and Miracle Creek by Angie Kim. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
October 28, 2021
The Other Black Girl
Librarians Elizabeth, Sarah and Desirae chat about Zakiya Dalila Harris’ popular novel that offers a behind-the-scenes look at book publishing and blends horror elements, humor and social commentary. Our conversation touches on hair and how it relates to identity, femininity and professionalism. Titles discussed in this episode include: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, False Witness by Karin Slaughter, Pet Sematary by Stephen King, Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
September 29, 2021
Q&A With Lauren Fox
Librarian and host Sarah chats with Lauren Fox, local author of Send for Me, which follows four generations of women from 1930s Germany to contemporary Milwaukee. Fox talks about writing her first historical novel, her great-grandmother’s letters that inspired the story, and what it was like to have Send for Me picked as a Read With Jenna book and answer readers’ questions on the TODAY show. Titles discussed in this episode include: Send for Me, Still Life With Husband, Friends Like Us, and Days of Awe, all by Lauren Fox. Also mentioned: Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi, The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny, and The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel. Read Lauren Fox’s Lit Hub essay, about sharing family history with the next generation, here: Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
August 25, 2021
Cookbook Memoirs
Enjoy reading cookbooks for leisure? Why not try a cookbook memoir? Listen in as host Elizabeth and guest Mary discuss their new and old favorites in this genre. Books discussed in this episode are Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl, People Who Love to Eat Are Always the Best People and Other Wisdom by Julia Child, Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food by Ann Hood, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley, Midnight Chicken: & Other Recipes Worth Living For by Ella Risbridger, Jew-ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch by Jake Cohen, Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table by Boris Fishman, Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking by Bill Buford, Eat a Peach: A Memoir by David Chang and Crying in H Mart: A Memoir, by Michele Zauner.  Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
July 28, 2021
Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries
In this episode, hosts Elizabeth and Sarah talk about their new favorite historical mystery series, Abir Mukherjee’s Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries, set in 1920s India. It speaks to themes relevant to today’s readers, such as addiction and PTSD, even as its setting offers a delightful escape. Titles discussed in this episode include: A Rising Man, A Necessary Evil, Smoke and Ashes, and Death in the East, all by Abir Mukherjee. Also mentioned: Sujata Massey’s Perveen Mistry series; The Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh; The Red Hot Chilli Writers podcast; and the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series and the Malabar House series, both by Vaseem Khan. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
June 25, 2021
Pride Month Picks
Host Sarah and guest Adam chat about terrific books by LGBTQ+ authors, just in time for Pride Month. Plus, we share the prizes you can win for reading with the library when participating in WAPL’s Adult Summer Reading Program. Titles discussed in this episode include: Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett; Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin; Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski; Memorial by Bryan Washington; Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan; Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon; and The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
May 24, 2021
Mothers and Daughters
Join us for the second episode in which Elizabeth is joined by guest Sarah R. to discuss fiction with a focus on the relationship between mothers and daughters, just in time for Mother's Day. Also, our new Nonfiction book club is starting in June, so don't forget to register! Books discussed in this episode include: Saturday by Oge Mora, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, The Mommy Book by Todd Parr, Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick, The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain, Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, Send for Me by Lauren Fox and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
April 26, 2021
Based on a True Story
Hosts Elizabeth and Sarah, both librarians at West Allis Public Library, talk about books based on a true story. Plus, we welcome you to the library, and beyond its walls, for National Library Week. Titles discussed in this episode include: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, Georgia by Dawn Tripp, A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, Euphoria by Lily King, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones, Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris, The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore, and Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Music: Tim Moor via Pixabay
March 08, 2021