This month’s list is packed with highly anticipated reads from all genres. Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim, is a compelling court room drama that tackles some pretty heavy issues. I couldn’t put it down. Also, Sarah Blake’s latest, The Guest Book, a lush family saga that already has over 50 holds. For those interested in wading into speculative fiction, there’s the thoroughly original and engaging Light From Other Stars by Erika Swyler.
Read through the whole list to find many many more, (we’ve included some RA hints as additional guides) and don’t forget to join us in July for our next live event! In the meantime, we’ll have another list in June (Yay summer!), and if you need even more ideas contact us anytime!
Have recent recommendations left a bad taste in your mouth? Looking for a new book to devour? Join us for a book tasting! We’re curating a delectable selection of new fiction to pique your appetite, from all genres so we’re certain you won’t leave hungry for new book to read. Sample each title, chat with your fellow diners, and enjoy some sweet treats. Next Wednesday evening at 7PM we’ll have the tables set so come and take you seat – your reservation awaits! Click here for our calendar entry.
Join us for Library March Madness: help us decide the best book of the last decade! Vote on Facebook or Twitter every other day as we pit popular bestsellers against literary darlings to determine the ultimate champion!
At this point in Winter, we all need a break. If you’re like most people, it’s not feasible to hop on a plane. Instead, try immersing yourself in a new book from a far off place, and travel without leaving your favorite reading nook! Our January Friday Fiction presentation took us around the world with titles that are sure to provide you with plenty of new “destinations” and thought-provoking experiences to carry through until Spring.
We started in the US with Asymmetry,a debut by Lisa Halliday, which examined New York and America through the eyes of two very different and seemingly unconnected individuals. The connection is there, and finding it is the true reward of this novel. Then, Essayist Pam Houston took us to the great American Rockies of Colorado for an exploration of humanity’s relationship to the earth in Deep Creek. David Kipen paints a vivid picture of three centuries in Los Angeles through the writings of its famous denizens and visitors, and The Paragon Hotel fictionalizes the often overlooked history of Portland, Oregon.
From there we moved abroad to the mountain villages of China for a horrific satire in famed Chinese writer Yan Liang’s latest The Day the Sun Died, and then to the brutal realities of the Philipine-American War through the lens of a filmmaker in the experimental and ambitious Insurrecto. Then west to Madhuri Vijay’s tale of family secrets, political turmoil, and difficult choices in the Kashmiri region of India in her moving, atmospheric novel, The Far Field.
Next we visited West Africa and two very different novels from Nigeria: In the first, prize winning author Chigozie Obioma weaves Nigerian folklore and Greek legend into an intricate, heart wrenching tale of modern Nigeria. In the second, first time novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite treats us to a darkly humorous story about a young woman that has a bad habit of killing her boyfriends and the sister who has a bad habit of covering for her – that is until the latter’s new crush becomes the former’s new target.
Up on the European continent, we made many stops: First in Israel, for Amanda Sthers’ Holy Lands which contemplates modern technologies through the struggles of an estranged family. Then to Greece for a contemplative conversational novel that seeks the ultimate answers to difficult questions about acclaim, identity and sacrifice with Rachel Cusk’s Kudos. In Norway, North of Dawn describes the struggles of assimilation for a Somali family, and The Red Address Book describes the long, eventful and heartwarming life of a 96-six year old woman as she pages through her address book.
Finally, in England, we get two thrilling tales from very different corners. The first is a small but powerful novelization of a real and terrifying event that took place in the council estates in London, told through the eyes of several witnesses called In Our Mad and Furious City. The second is a true to form thriller-mystery set on the summer coast in Norfolk, England, where a long lost Au Pair must be tracked down years later to uncover long kept family secrets, a novel appropriately titled The Au Pair.
And finally, we are back in New York, with a gem of a novel called the Museum of Modern Love. This inspired story is framed by the moving performance art of the real Marina Abramovic, specifically an exhibition from 2010 called The Artist is Present, around which the heart broken fictional characters revolve. It’s a lovely book.
Our next live Friday Fiction presentation at the library is April 19, at 10:30AM. We will also be adding a second, evening event for readers, called Book Tastings, on April 24 at 7PM, which will feature many of the books from the April Friday Fiction. More details on that soon. Need more recommendations now? Contact Us!
If you’re still thinking about what to give the book-lover in your life, or if you just need something new to read, our expert librarians have put together a great list of their favorite reads of 2018. So, whether you’re a fantasy fan, a kitchen savant, a graphic guru, or a master/ mistress of suspense, this list has something for you. And better still – many on this list are from previous years, so they’re a great option for people waiting in long hold queues for the latest bestsellers.
Need more ideas for what to read? Contact our Bookwise team!
Fiction | Nonfiction | Picture Books | Middle Grade | Teen and Young Adult | Graphic Novels and Manga | Scifi and Fantasy | Mystery and Suspense | Historical Fiction | Book club picks Cookbooks | Memoir and Biography | History
Teen and Young Adult:
Graphic Novels and Manga:
Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Mystery and Suspense:
Memoir and Biography:
Thanks to a $7,500 federal IMLS grant awarded by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to the Chelmsford Library, we are embarking on a year-long project to promote civic participation and education called REACT Grant: Read, Engage, And Come Together.
Join us as we explore six key issues that impact our community, through engaging programming, in depth, moderated discussions, films, readings, and quality resources. The schedule of these six areas are:
- October 2018: Promote the project and Voter Engagement
- November/December 2018: Poverty and Food Insecurity
- January/February 2019: Racial Justice and One Book
- March/April 2019: Environment and Climate Change
- May/June 2019: LGBTQ Equality
- July/August 2019: Immigration and Refugees
- September/October 2019: Public Education
You won’t want to miss what we have in store. Find out about upcoming events in the series and links to resources here.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Summer Reading Bingo challenge this year! If you are looking for something new to try this Fall, check out what your neighbors suggest:
|How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill: “This book is an excellent scholarly history book that is told in a clear fun style. Great Irish biographies and stories form the background of Ireland’s role in saving the literary legacy of the classical world.”|
|Let Me Call You Sweetheart, by Mary Higgins Clark: “A young woman who is a prosecuting attorney and who has a young daughter finds information that a man convicted for murder may be innocent. As she pursues different avenues her daughter is threatened with possible harm. Many twists and turns to the plot. Not til about 10-12 pages to the end of the book do you finally figure out what’s going on.”|
|Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, by Dan Harris: “This book is a follow-up to his book 10% Happier. It’s a humorous but practical guide to meditation for those of us who want to meditate but just haven’t made the commitment for some reason. It offers common-sense guidance which inspired me to try again.”|
|A Psalm for Lost Girls, by K. Bayerd: “So good – I couldn’t put it down! Well-drawn characters and teenagers that act like teenagers not like adults in teen clothing. Heavy subjects – grief, death, religion, identity – are handled both realistically and with sensitivity. I will miss the universe of this book.”|
|The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros: “This book has become one of my all-time favorites. Cisneros used short literary vignettes, or snapshots, of Esperanza’s inner thoughts to build her coming of age story following a young Latina growing up in Chicago. Published in 1984, this book is still a must-read. With fluid and poetic writing, this is a quick read with a lot of depth.”|
|Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries: “I love all Louise Penny books – they are all good, Glass Houses was a particular favorite however I would recommend reading them in order. It isn’t absolutely necessary but helps in understanding the development of the characters. Her detective Armand Gamache has become a favorite along with the other recurring (and somewhat eccentric) characters of Three Pines. L. P. is a remarkable writer – hard to put her books down prior to finish.”|
|The Bridge, by Peter Tomasi: Very interesting. “I had no idea how hard it was to build the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC. The trials and all the engineering. But the politics were another dimension. Recommended to my son to read.”|
|The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon: “A well-respected sci-fi writer who initially entered the field by co-writing two books with Anne McCaffrey. Though this book takes place sometime (not specified) in the future, it’s about an autistic male who works for a large company that employs a group of people with autism that can make incredibly fast calculations. Should our hero have an operation that will correct his autism or will the operation essentially impair his brilliance? Moon has an autistic son herself so she knows what she is talking about though the book is fiction.”|
|A Column of Fire, by Ken Follett: “This book is historical fiction starting in England in the 16th century and branching out to other locations in the world. The world is torn by religious conflict. Exploring the conflicts and historical characters of the time through the fictional characters in the story helps to provide better understanding of the period.”|
|The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah: “This is a great story of courage and resilience set in the Alaskan wilderness. All of the characters face hardships that can only be overcome by working together.”|
|The Outsider by Stephen King: “What starts out as a murder to be solved turns into a book about people in two places at once. Actually the murderer is a shape-shifter – includes Holly from Mr. Mercedes.”|
Other books read during the challenge:
|Read a Book from a genre you don’t like:||Read a short story collection:|
|Read a book published the year you were born:||Read a Staff Pick:|
|Read a Graphic Novel:||Read a book that’s also a movie:|
Other answers from readers:
Tell us about an item the library should lend:
|Science equipment for kids
Novelty cake pans
GPS preloaded with local hiking trails
|Graphic novel binge box
Summer lawn games
Basic home repair toolbox
Self paced programming courses (some are available here)
Suggest a program the library should offer:
|More reading challenges
Escape room for kids
Better learning garden at MacKay
Trips for seniors
How to Sew
Quilting group (Crafty people should also check out our newest book group, Knit-Lit!)
Thanks to all who joined us last Friday morning for our quarterly live book-share. I hope you found something to read or look forward to! For those that were unable to attend, the list is below. This round, we brought a variety of genres, to help you complete those Summer Reading BINGO boards, and because summer is a great time to experiment with new stories. We have also included some that we know will be favorites soon, and some favorites that our audience suggested. There are a few set during WWII, (The Lost Vintage, Dear Mrs. Bird, Eagle and Crane) but each tells such an intriguing new story from that era. There are some uplifting stories for warm summer days (The Lido, The Late Bloomers Club), and there are thrillers for stormy afternoons (Rough Animals, Providence, Still Lives, The Darkest Time of Night). There are serious novels to spark interesting conversation at your next cookout (Bad Stories, The Poisoned City). There are novels of speculative fiction (The Suicide Club, Tell the Machine Goodnight) and magic (Spinning Silver, Witchmark), great character-driven fiction (The Ensemble, Unsheltered, What We Were Promised), a novel by an author that seems determined to write a great story based on each famous building in Manhattan (The Masterpiece), and many more. Read through the list – which one will make it into your suitcase or beach bag?
Join us for our next meeting on October 19th!
|Bad Stories is an effort to make sense of our historical moment. The book argues that bad outcomes arise directly from the bad stories we tell ourselves. Using literature as a lens, Bad Stories explores entertainment, sports, and political parody, the degeneration of our free press into a for-profit industry, and our enduring pathologies of race, class, immigration, and tribalism. Critics are calling it “the feel bad read of the season!”|
|The Darkest Time of Night: Investigative journalist for WSMV-TV in Nashville, Jeremy Finley’s debut thriller explores what happens to people’s lives when our world intersects with the unexplainable.|
|Dear Mrs. Bird: London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort as a volunteer telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When a job is advertised at the London Evening Chronicle, Emmy’s sees her dream of being a Lady War Correspondent coming true. But she winds up as typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Disappointed, she gamely bucks up and buckles down. Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend Bunty in Pearce’s irresistible debut.|
|Eagle and Crane: Louis Thorn and Haruto “Harry” Yamada the Eagle and the Crane, are the star attractions of a daredevil aerial stunt team that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family’s belief that the Yamadas, Japanese immigrants, stole land from the Thorn family. This tension is inflamed when Louis and Harry are both drawn to the same woman, Ava. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor there are changes and harsh realities to face. And when one of the stunt planes crashes with two charred bodies inside, the ensuing investigation struggles when the details don’t add up and no one seems willing to tell the truth.|
|The Ensemble: I really got into this one. It’s my favorite kind of character driven, coming of age story, about a group of friends, a family really, that go from their graduation through their early adult lives, changing in multitudes along the way. A Cellist herself, her narrative follows four bright young musicians: Jana, Brit, Daniel, and Henry. Each has their own stories but all come together over the projects of the Van Ness String Quartet.. My heart broke over the individual trials of each player, but rejoiced over the companionship they forged through their musicianship. It’s a wonderful coming of age story, like Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. – Jessica|
|French Exit: The characters are not necessarily relatable at first, but they grow on you. Suddenly you find yourself looking through their eye, a sort of distorted and disoriented viewpoint. Forced to give up luxury on the upper east side in NYC for a borrowed apartment in Paris because of overspending in the wake of the patriarch’s death and financial scandal Frances and her son Malcolm must begin a new life. Neither Mother nor son is able to sustain normal society, so their disorientation and required humility provides great comedy to the narrative, and DeWitt is a master at this. Will they come to terms with their new situation in life, or will they continue on their slow but definite road to ruin? You may be reminded of the shenanigans that populate Wodehouse’s Jeeves series.|
|From the Corner of the Oval: Against the backdrop of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and, in the process, discovering her voice|
|The Last Cruise: Christine, a former journalist turned farmer, Mick, a Hungarian cruise ship chef, and Miriam, an Israeli quartet violinist find themselves thrown together in turmoil as what was supposed to be pleasant retro-cruise turns into a nightmare at sea.|
|The Late Bloomers Club: A delightful novel about two headstrong sisters, a small town’s efforts to do right by the community, and the power of a lost dog to summon true love.|
|The Lido: Another one related to civic engagement, but much more tame, The Lido is the story of two women coming together over an unexpected cause. Kate is a young, anxiety ridden reporter in Brixton, outside London, charged with covering the closing of a local community pool, which will be torn down to accommodate more housing development. This is just the latest in a pattern of gentrification for the community. In investigating the history of the pool for the local newspaper she meets the community that greatly values the pool, most especially an 86 year old woman named Rosemary whose relationship with the pool goes back decades. Her life forms the second track of the novel as we learn about how the pool served as a respite for her at different points in her life. Under Rosemary’s influence, Kate changes from a depressed and friendless woman to a person with purpose (to save the pool) and relationships. Similar in storyline to A Man Called Ove, this is a sweet story for an afternoon by the pool.|
|The Lost Vintage: Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turner about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy to study for her Master of Wine test, and uncovers a lost diary, a forgotten relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since WWII.|
|The Masterpiece: Fiona Davis returns with her third historical in 3 years, after 2016’s The Dollhouse and last year’s The Address. In The Masterpiece, Davis once again pairs women across generations in New York City to present the story of famous landmarks and historical periods. The Masterpiece‘s focus is Grand Central Terminal. In 1928, we meet Clara Darden, illustrator and teacher at the art school once housed in the terminal building. In 1974, we meet Virginia Clay, a divorced mother whose lack of skills but ample resourcefulness bring her to an unusual position in the now crumbling train station. Both women exude great strength as their respective cultures aim to push them aside for being women. Davis does a good job with the characters, but an even better job of highlighting some of NYC’s most intriguing stories.|
|Not Our Kind (Coming in September): It’s post war Manhattan, and Eleanor Moskowitz is late for a prestigious teaching interview, so she decides to take a cab. When her cab is rear ended and she finds herself simultaneously bloody, desperate for a phone, and ashamed of her appearance, when the perfectly tailored and coiffed Patrica Bellamy, comes to her aid, though second guessing her decision upon learning her passenger’s last name. At Patricia’s Park Avenue Apartment, Eleanor surprisingly befriends Patricia’s polio-stricken and surly daughter Margeaux. As a result, Eleanor is hired as Margeaux’s tutor, allowing Eleanor access to the world of New York’s 1%. They will simultaneously accept and reject her as a result of the prejudices brewing while America was at war. On the surface, it’s a simple romance, but the defeat of prejudice and the developing relationship between ethnic groups and classes is the real focus of this novel. It’s an important and often overlooked story. – Jessica|
|The Poisoned City: Through a series of disastrous decisions, the state government had switched the city’s water supply to a source that corroded Flint’s aging lead pipes. Complaints about the foul-smelling water were dismissed: the residents of Flint, mostly poor and African American, were not seen as credible, even in matters of their own lives.
It took eighteen months of activism by city residents and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. By that time, twelve people had died and Flint’s children had suffered irreparable harm. The long battle for accountability and a humane response to this man-made disaster has only just begun.
In the first full account of this American tragedy, The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town, but could also be about any American city, all made precarious by the neglect of infrastructure and the erosion of democratic decision making. Places like Flint are set up to fail-and for the people who live and work in them, the consequences can be fatal.
|Providence: Providence is known for a few things, but perhaps most notable of all is that it was the final home of the writer H. P. Lovecraft. In her third novel, Caroline Kepnes inserts Lovecraft into a modern day teenage love story to present a captivating and genre-bending page turner. Jon is a quirky kid, loved by no one except Chloe. Their relationship is close, they understand each other in ways others can’t comprehend, and just as Jon is about to suggest a new intensity to their relationship he is kidnapped. Chloe is devastated about his disappearance, but equally about the lack of interest others have for his disappearance. She unravels, but then, as time goes by, picks herself up and assumes the role of a normal teenage girl. Then, 4 years later, Jon reappears, taller, stronger and with a strange intense new power that inadvertently harms and sometimes kills those around him, mysteriously imparted to him by his kidnapper. He must learn to simultaneously keep his physical distance from Chloe and find a way to keep her close. He travels from New Hampshire to Providence, where perfectly healthy people suddenly begin to drop dead and a quirky detective is trying to figure out the pattern. It’s fast-paced, fiercely original and great for adults and young adults, fans of Stranger Things or anyone that loves a good suspenseful mystery. – Jessica|
|Rough Animals: Breaking Bad meets No Country for Old Men… Ever since their father’s untimely death five years before, Wyatt Smith and his inseparably close twin sister, Lucy, have scraped by alone on their family’s isolated ranch in Box Elder County, Utah. That is until one morning when, just after spotting one of their steers lying dead in the field, Wyatt is hit in the arm by a hail of gunfire that takes four more cattle with it. The shooter: a fever-eyed, fearsome girl-child with a TEC-9 in her left hand and a worn shotgun in her right. They hold the girl captive, but she breaks loose overnight and heads south into the desert. With the dawning realization that the loss of cattle will mean the certain loss of the ranch, Wyatt feels he has no choice but to go after her and somehow find restitution for what’s been lost. Wyatt’s decision sets him on an epic twelve-day odyssey through a nightmarish underworld he only half understands; a world that pitches him not only against the primordial ways of men and the beautiful yet brutally unforgiving landscape, but also against himself. As he winds his way down from the mountains of Box Elder to the mesas of Monument Valley and back, Wyatt is forced to look for the first time at who he is and what he’s capable of, and how those hard truths set him irrevocably apart from the one person he’s ever really known and loved. Steeped in a mythic, wildly alive language of its own, and gripping from the first gunshot to the last, Rough Animals is a tour de force from a powerful new voice.|
|Spinning Silver: Miryem was brought up in a snowbound village, on the edge of a charmed forest. She comes from a family of moneylenders, but her kind father shirks his work. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, his family faces poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what’s owed, and her neighbors soon whisper that she can turn silver into gold. Then an ill-advised boast attracts the cold creatures that haunt the wood. Nothing will be the same again, for words have power. And the challenge she’s issued will change the fate of a kingdom.
Channeling the spirit of the original Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, Naomi Novik has written a rich, multi-layered fantasy about sacrifice, power and love that is a joy to read.
|Still Lives: A riveting page-turner and feminist proclamation all in one. Maggie Richter is a copy-editor for the revered, but struggling, modern art museum Rocque in Los Angeles. In an effort to revitalize the museum’s coffers and place back in the center of the LA art scene, they commission the controversial Kim Lord to produce an exhibition of her latest work Still Lives. Lord’s paintings depict the bodies of famous female victims of violent crimes in LA, including The Black Dahlia, Kitty Genovese and Nicole Brown Simpson. Maggie can’t stand them for the way they seem to be exploiting the lives and deaths of these women for publicity. Then, the artist herself fails to appear for her own exhibit’s opening gala, and the artist’s boyfriend, also Maggie’s ex, is the prime suspect. Maggie, and the reader, are then drawn into an investigation that will take them through LA’s glamorous and not-so-glamorous sides. I loved the layers to this book. You have a well-written page turner, a socially conscious set of characters, and a great tour of LA’s history and seedy underworlds. – Jessica|
|The Suicide Club: A compelling look at a near future world obsessed with the possibility of immortality. Suicide Club specifically addresses our culture’s health obsession by drawing a world in which music and art are discouraged as cortisol inducing behaviors and trading in human organs is the best way to maintain wealth. Lea, at 100 years old, is such a prime product of this culture that she and her well-toned fiance are positioned to be included in the so called 3rd wave, which would extend Lea’s life-expectancy of 300 years to infinity. But someone from her past has resurfaced and is involved in a counter cultural movement. Lea’s connection to this figure and the cause of the underground movement place her under scrutiny from the Ministry and cause her to question her life’s direction. – Jessica|
|A Terrible Country: When Andrei Kaplan’s older brother Dima insists that Andrei return to Moscow to care for their ailing grandmother, Andrei must take stock of his life in New York. Perhaps a few months in Moscow are just what he needs. So Andrei sublets his room in Brooklyn, packs up his hockey stuff, and moves into the apartment that Stalin himself had given his grandmother, a woman who has outlived her husband and most of her friends. Andrei learns to navigate Putin’s Moscow, still the city of his birth, but with more expensive coffee. A wise, sensitive novel about Russia, exile, family, love, history and fate, A Terrible County asks what you owe the place you were born, and what it owes you. Writing with grace and humor, Keith Gessen gives us a brilliant and mature novel that is sure to mark him as one of the most talented novelists of his generation.|
|Unsheltered: Barbara Kingsolver has been writing since her debut in 1988 with the Bean Trees. Since then she has had numerous best-sellers, including The Poisonwood bible, a perennial book club favorite about the travails of a baptist missionary and his family in an unstable African Congo in 1959. In her latest novel, she presents a story of a New Jersey neighborhood and the people residing there, joined over time. The first strain tells the story of Willa Knox, a middle aged freelance journalist living in the dawn of Trump, despairing over her crumbling New Jersey house and her growing caretaker responsibilities, which include her ailing and right-wing father in law, her two fledgling adult children and her son’s newborn baby.The second strain tells the story of a teacher in the 1880s, residing in the same but younger neighborhood of Willa. The teacher, Thatcher Greenwood, struggles to teach the new evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin to a local school body, but is met with great resistance from the community and within his own household. Through beautiful writing and expertly drawn characters, Kingsolver tells the story of two characters, joined in their relative struggles at the edge of cultural upheaval.|
|What We Were Promised: Set in modern Shanghai, a debut by a Chinese-American writer about a prodigal son whose unexpected return forces his newly wealthy family to confront painful secrets and unfulfilled promises.|
|Witchmark: In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.
Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.
When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
Summer is the perfect time for short stories…OK, I actually think great short stories are perfect for any time of year, but when you only have an hour on the beach or a long-ish lunch outside, short stories can provide the perfect single-sitting escape. On my list below, I’ve included two brilliant collections from award-winning writers Joseph O’Neill (The Dog, Netherland) and Lydia Millet (Love in Infant Monkeys, Sweet Lamb of Heaven). But short doesn’t have to just come in fiction: David Sedaris’ Calypso is an irreverent and hilarious collection of essays pointing out the foibles in himself and those around him, and Michelle Dean has created an invaluable tribute to women of letters in her collection of connected profiles called Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion
Of course, the majority of this list is made up of our recommendations for great stories of novel length. J. P. Delaney follows his 2017 bestselling psychological thriller The Girl Before with the twisty and disorienting Believe Me. B. A. Shapiro’s 3rd novel, The Collector’s Apprentice, involves art, yes, but also the electric Paris of the 1920’s, populated with all your favorite jazz age writers and artists. Likely the debut of the season, Tommy Orange has penned a brilliant and expansive story of a group of people who come together to participate in a ceremony for myriad reasons and from different backgrounds, hoping to find hope, community and meaning in There, There. Lisa’s also included Anthony Horowitz’s first in a new series, The Word is Murder, a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery that breaks the fourth wall, making the author a character. The second in this series, Another Word for Murder, is due out later this year, so get started soon!
If you need a challenge to keep you going this summer, our Adult Summer Reading BINGO is back! You can pick up a card at the circulation desk of the Main or MacKay branch library, or download and print a card from our website, here. Complete as many challenges as you can, and turn in the card by August 24 to be entered to win one of three prize packs, including Friends of the Library book sale gift certificates, Gift of Chelmsford certificates, literary themed mugs and reading journals.
Finally, mark your calendars to join us for our next live Friday Fiction event, on Friday, July 20 at 10:30AM. We’ll have a great list of titles to accompany you on your late summer vacations (and you can check off a square on your BINGO card for coming!)
Here’s our list:
|All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin: Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. Her husband’s tech business is booming, and her son, Finch, is bound for Princeton. Thomas Talone is a single dad working multiple jobs. His daughter, Lila, was recently accepted to Nashville’s most prestigious private high school on a scholarship. Then one devastating photo changes everything. Lila passes out at a party, drunk and half-naked. Finch snaps a picture, types out a caption, and sends it out to a few friends. The photo spreads quickly, and before long, an already divided community takes sides, throws blame, and implodes. And in the midst of it all, Nina and Tom are forced to question all their assumptions about love and loyalty.|
|Believe Me, by J. P. Delaney: “An unemployed actress works for a divorce lawyer entrapping unsuspecting husbands until she finds herself ensnared in a murder investigation. This roller-coaster ride of a book will keep you guessing with an unreliable narrator and and a twisty plot.”
Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
|Black Klansman, by Ron Stallworth: A decorated African-American law enforcement veteran traces his remarkable undercover infiltration of the KKK and how his white partner and he posed as one person, rose in the ranks and sabotaged Klan activities before the investigation’s tragic end.|
|The Book of M, by Peng Shepherd: In a dangerous near-future world, a group of ordinary people are caught in an extraordinary catastrophe and risk everything to save the ones they love. A first novel which is being compared to The Passage and Station Eleven.|
|Calypso, by David Sedaris: This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet–and it just might be his very best.|
|The Collector’s Apprentice, by B. A. Shapiro: The latest novel from the bestselling author of the Art Forger and The Muralist, Shapiro transports readers to Paris in the 1920s, populated with all the great figures, and weaves an unputdownable story of scandal intrigue and, of course, art.|
|The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware: Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an excellent thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.|
| Fight No More, by Lydia Millet: In her first story collection since Love in Infant Monkeys, which became a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Lydia Millet explores what it means to be home. With wit and intellect, Millet offers profound insight into human behavior from the ordinary to the bizarre: strong-minded girls are beset by the helpless, myopic executives are tormented by their employees, and beastly men do beastly things.
Fresh off the critical triumph of Sweet Lamb of Heaven (long-listed for the National Book Award), Millet is pioneering a new kind of satire―compassionate toward its victims and hilariously brutal in its depiction of modern American life.
|Good Trouble, by Joseph O’Neill: On the surface, these men and women may be in only mild trouble, but in these perfectly made, fiercely modern stories O’Neill reminds us of the real, secretly political consequences of our internal monologues. No writer is more incisive about the strange world we live in now; the laugh-out-loud vulnerability of his people is also fodder for tears.|
|The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai: A novel set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris follows the director of a Chicago art gallery and a woman looking for her estranged daughter in Paris who both struggle to come to terms with the ways AIDS has affected their lives.|
Harry’s Trees, by Jon Cohen: A 38-year old traumatized widower fortuitously meets an 11-year old girl who sets him on a feverish road to redemption.
|The High Season, by Judy Blundell: “The ultimate summer read–featuring indelible characters, crackling wit, and sophisticated storytelling–about one season when everything in a woman’s life goes wrong. This is a novel about the dreams and ambitions of youth coming to terms with the realities of middle-age; about the way desperation can make us astonish ourselves; and about how the most disruptive events in our lives can sometimes twist endings into new beginnings”|
|The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang: A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick. Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic.|
|Little Big Love, by Katy Regan: “A portrait of a family and a boy’s search for the father who left them, told from multiple perspectives with authentic, likeable characters.”
Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis County Library, Austin, TX
|The Madonna of the Mountains, by Elise Valmorbida: This epic novel follows the life of a woman in the hardscrabble Italian countryside, from her girlhood through marriage and motherhood through two World Wars and during the Fascist party rule. A sweeping saga about womanhood, religion, loyalty, war, family, motherhood, and marriage, The Madonna of the Mountains is set in Italy during the 1920s to the 1950s, and follows its heroine, Maria Vittoria, from her girlhood through her marriage and motherhood, through the National Fascist Party Rule and ending with her decision to emigrate with her family to Australia.|
|Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, by Jess Kidd: Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent and hoarding Cathal Flood.
But Maud is this insolent old man’s last chance: if she can help him get his house in order, he might be able to fend off being removed to an old age home. So the unlikely pair begin to cooperate, connecting over their shared love of folk tales and their suspicion of Gabriel, Cathal’s overbearing son. Still, shadows are growing in the cluttered corners of the mansion, hinting at buried family secrets, and reminding Maud that she doesn’t really know this man at all. When she starts poking around, the forgotten case of a missing local schoolgirl comes to light, and a full-steam search for answers begins.
|Never Anyone But You, by Rupert Thompson: Fictionalizes the true story of a love affair between two extraordinary women and recreates the surrealist movement in Paris and the horrors of the two world wars.|
|The Number One Chinese Restaurant, by Lillian Li: The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working family’s controlled chaos is set loose, forcing each character to confront the conflicts that fast-paced restaurant life has kept at bay|
|Robin, by Dave Itzkoff: The New York Times culture reporter and author of Mad as Hell presents a compelling portrait of Robin Williams that illuminates his comic brilliance, conflicting emotions and often misunderstood character, sharing insights into the gift for improvisation that shaped his wide range of characters, his struggles with addiction and depression and his relationships with friends and family members.|
|The Secrets Between Us, by Thrity Umrigar: After being fired from her job as a servant, Bhima forms a partnership with Parvati to sell produce at the local market and makes her first true friend, in a follow up to The Space Between Us.|
|Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion, by Michelle Dean: The ten brilliant women who are the focus of Sharp came from different backgrounds and had vastly divergent political and artistic opinions. But they all made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual history of America and ultimately changed the course of the twentieth century, in spite of the men who often undervalued or dismissed their work.|
|Southernmost, by Silas House: When an evangelical preacher in Tennessee offers shelter to two gay men after a catastrophic flood, he’s met with resistance by his wife and congregation, and eventually loses custody of his son. He decides to kidnap his son and flee to Key West, where he suspects his estranged gay brother is living.|
|There There, by Tommy Orange: There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.|
The Word is Murder, by Anthony Horowitz: A playful commentary on the mystery genre itself and the first in a promising new series. The author, Horowitz, plays the part of the narrator, and gets caught up in solving a murder with Daniel Hawthorne, an out-of-work detective.
Now Adults can join in the summer reading fun too!
Adult summer challenge Bingo cards can be downloaded and printed, or you can pick one up at the Circulation or Info Desk on the main floor starting June 4th
Cross off spaces for reading different genres, but also for attending summer programs, downloading music and movies and much more! Turn in your completed card to the Main desk and be entered into a raffle for prizes by August 24!
And if you need reading suggestions, we’re here to help!