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.