Staff Picks: Summer Reads

Whether you’re reading on a beach, on a plane, in a park, or on your comfy sofa this summer, here are six books to put on your summer reading list.

 

Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer

Kick off summer with this year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.  When Arthur Less receives an invitation to his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, he does what any reasonable person would do: accepts every single invitation for literary festivals overseas to avoid the awkwardness of attending the wedding.  Follow Arthur as he hops from Paris to Morocco to India, trying to come to grips with aging, love, and his future.

 

 

 

 

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler

Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.

Her memoir navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the reader deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her laser-sharp reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death.

 

 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.  This stirring story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control.

 

 

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

If you take a roadtrip this summer, chances are you’ll see folks like the ones described in Nomadland: older Americans who, by choice or by necessity, give up their houses and take to the road in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans.  From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans.

In a secondhand vehicle she christens “Van Halen,” Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying workampers from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy―one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive.

 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

If you haven’t yet read Little Fires Everywhere, check it out this summer before the series based on the book debuts on Hulu.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who  carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

 

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

When Leah Stevens’ career implodes, a chance meeting with her old friend Emmy Grey offers her the perfect opportunity to start over. Emmy, just out of a bad relationship, convinces Leah to come live with her in rural Pennsylvania, where there are teaching positions available and no one knows Leah’s past.

When the town sees a spate of vicious crimes and Emmy Grey disappears, Leah begins to realize how very little she knows about her friend and roommate. Unable to find friends, family, a paper trail or a digital footprint, the police question whether Emmy Grey existed at all. And mark Leah as a prime suspect.

Fighting the doubts of the police and her own sanity, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

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