by Sadie Jones
Bea and Dan, recently married, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic. When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping. Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its heart, and then its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Mystery
Similar: House of Sand and Fog (Andre Dubus)
At the End of the Century
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Nobody has written so powerfully of the relationship between and within India and the Western middle classes than Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. In this selection of stories, chosen by her surviving family, her ability to tenderly and humorously view the situations faced by three (sometimes interacting) cultures—European, post-Independence Indian, and American—is never more acute. The profound inner experience of both men and women is at the center of Jhabvala’s writing: she rivals Jane Austen with her impeccable powers of observation. With an introduction by her friend, the writer Anita Desai, At the End of the Century celebrates a writer’s astonishing lifetime gift for language, and leaves us with no doubt of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s unique place in modern literature.
Genre: Short Stories; Literary Fiction
Similar: Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout)
Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama
by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf.
Genre: Graphic Novel; Memoir
Similar: Fun Home (Alison Bechdel)
Queer: A Graphic History
by Meg-John Barker
illustrated by Julia Scheele
Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged. Presented in a brilliantly engaging and witty style, this is a unique portrait of the universe of queer thinking.
Genre: Graphic Novel; Nonfiction
Similar: Gender: Your Guide (Lee Airton)
Best Perennials for Sun and Shade
Choosing perennials for a garden can be a daunting task, considering that there are thousands of choices. To make the selection easier, this guide profiles the easiest-to-grow and best-performing perennials for both sunny and shady locations. Each plant is shown in a beautiful color photo for easy identification. The photo is accompanied by information on where and how to grow the featured plant, along with horticultural tips to assist in making the perennial-gardening adventure an enjoyable endeavor. From controlling pesky bugs and deadheading to staking tall plants and taking root cuttings, everything a beginning gardener or new homeowner needs to start a garden is here.
Genre: Nonfiction; Gardening
Similar: The Best Plants for New Hampshire Gardens and Landscapes (Edited by Andi Axman)
by Karen Russell
Karen Russell's comedic genius and mesmerizing talent for creating outlandish predicaments that uncannily mirror our inner in lives is on full display in these eight exuberant, arrestingly vivid, unforgettable stories. The landscape in which these stories unfold is a feral, slippery, purgatorial space, bracketed by the void--yet within it Russell captures the exquisite beauty and tenderness of ordinary life.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Short Stories
Similar: Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Karen Russell)
by Xuan Juliana Wang
In twelve stunning stories of love, family, and identity, Xuan Juliana Wang’s debut collection captures the unheard voices of an emerging generation. Young, reckless, and catapulted toward uncertain futures, here is the new face of Chinese youth on a quest for every kind of freedom. From a crowded apartment on Mott Street, where an immigrant family raises its first real Americans, to a pair of divers at the Beijing Olympics poised at the edge of success and self-discovery, Wang’s unforgettable characters – with their unusual careers, unconventional sex lives and fantastical technologies – share the bold hope that, no matter where they’ve come from, their lives too can be extraordinary.
Genre: Short Stories; Literary Fiction
Similar: The Thing Around Your Neck (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
by Jennifer McMahon
In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home--wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks--she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie's descendants, three generations of "Breckenridge women," each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.
Genre: Horror; Thriller
Similar: The Last House Guest (Megan Miranda)
Breaking Cat News
by Georgia Dunn
This just in: Three adorable house cats are reporting the most hilarious breaking news! Based on author/illustrator Georgia Dunn’s real life pets, Elvis, Lupin, and Puck strap on neckties and pick up microphones to provide the most up-to-date relevant news stories (at least according to them). Together they break headlines on the food bowl, new plants, mysterious red dots, strange cats in the yard, and all the daily happenings in their home.
Genre: Graphic Novel; Humor
Similar: Chi's Sweet Home (Konami Kanata)
A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland
by DaMaris B. Hill
Through poetic memoir, biographical sketches, and archival black-and-white photographs, Hill’s first full-length collection gives voice to the history of black women in the United States who have undergone incarceration and oppression. To be bound suggests to be trapped; however, Hill’s poems illustrate how oppression can summon inner strength, resistance, and revolution. While many of the freedom fighters spotlighted in the collection endured tragedy, Hill suggests it would be limiting to label these figures as tragic or doomed. Their narratives are not cautionary tales of defeat, but nuanced testaments of survival and ascension.
Genre: Nonfiction; Poetry
Similar: The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations (Toni Morrison)
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal
by G. Willow Wilson
illustrated by Adrian Alphona
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey!
Genre: Superheroes; Comics; Young Adult; Fantasy
Similar: Supergirl: Being Super (Mariko Tamaki and Joëlle Jones)
The Girl from Rawblood
by Catriona Ward
At the turn of England's century, as the wind whistles in the lonely halls of Rawblood, young Iris Villarca is the last of her family's line. They are haunted, through the generations, by her, a curse passed down through ancient blood that marks each Villarca for certain heartbreak, and death. Iris forsakes her promise to her father, to remain alone, safe from the world. She dares to fall in love, and the consequences of her choice are immediate and terrifying. As the world falls apart around her, she must take a final journey back to Rawblood where it all began and where it must all end...
Genre: Historical Fiction; Gothic; Mystery; Horror
Similar: The Darkling Bride (Laura Andersen)
by Jasmine Guillory
Writer Nik Paterson is, reluctantly, attending a Dodgers game with her model-actor boyfriend when suddenly her name, spelled wrong, is on the Jumbotron and he’s down on one knee. A stadium full of people witness her rejection of the proposal, but only Carlos, a doctor, and his sister, Angie, come to her rescue, pretending to be old friends and whisking her away from the descending photographers. Nik’s best friends can see the chemistry between Carlos and Nik, but neither of them are up for anything serious. So they’re in no danger when they start hanging out, then sleeping together, then cooking breakfast together. Full of warmth, quick banter, girlfriend group-texts, and food—so much good food!—The Proposal will leave readers full of good-book feelings.
Genre: Contemporary Romance; General Fiction
Similar: Intercepted (Alexa Martin)
The Bookshop of Yesterdays
by Amy Meyerson
Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy’s bookstore, solving the inventive scavenger hunts he created just for her. But on Miranda’s twelfth birthday, Billy has a mysterious falling-out with her mother and suddenly disappears from Miranda’s life. She doesn’t hear from him again until sixteen years later when she receives unexpected news: Billy has died and left her Prospero Books, which is teetering on bankruptcy—and one final scavenger hunt.
Also available in Large Print!
Genre: Books About Books; General Fiction; Mystery
Similar: The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion (Fannie Flagg)
by Naomi Novik
In the village of Dvernik, the powerful wizard Sarkan (“the Dragon”) keeps the nearby Wood’s dark forces at bay. As payment, he takes a 17-year-old village girl to be his servant every 10 years, which is how dirt-smudged Agnieszka ends up locked in his tower. Though she loses her freedom, she also discovers she is a witch. Her magic lessons with Sarkan are soon interrupted as the Wood begins encroaching on villages, spreading illness and death. Throwing caution to the wind, Agnieszka takes on its horrors, aided by Sarkan, but are they strong enough to defeat such deeply rooted corruption? Novik’s atmospheric tale blends folklore, magic, danger, and a pinch of romance into an enthralling narrative.
Genre: Fantasy; Coming-of-age stories; Folklore
Similar: The Bear and the Nightingale (Katherine Arden)
by Tanya Tagaq
Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them. A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents' love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us. When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this. Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine readers will never forget.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Autobiographical Fiction; Coming-of-age stories
Similar: To the Bright Edge of the World (Eowyn Ivey)
Five Feet Apart
by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis
Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions. The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals. Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.
Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary Romance
Similar: Everything, Everything (Nicola Yoon)
Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
by Benjamin Dreyer
As authoritative as it is amusing, this book distills everything Benjamin Dreyer has learned from the hundreds of books he has copyedited into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best foot forward in writing prose. People are sharing their writing more than ever--on blogs, on Twitter--and this book lays out, clearly and comprehensibly, everything writers can do to keep readers focused on the real reason writers write: to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Chock-full of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts on the rules (and nonrules) of the English language, this book will prove invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills.
Genre: Nonfiction; Language; Books About Books
Similar: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Lynne Truss)
The Paragon Hotel
by Lyndsay Faye
The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.
She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?
Genre: Historical Fiction
Similar: The Best Bad Things (Katrina Carrasco)
All the Birds, Singing
by Evie Wyld
Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sets off a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. But there is also Jake's past—hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present.
With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Mystery; Contemporary Fiction
Similar: A Wonderful Stroke of Luck (Ann Beattie)
The Lost Words: A Spell Book
by Robert Macrarlane
illustrated by Jackie Morris
All over the country, there are words disappearing from children's lives. Words like Dandelion, Otter, Bramble, Acorn and Lark represent the natural world of childhood, a rich landscape of discovery and imagination that is fading from children's minds.
The Lost Words stands against the disappearance of wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of the poetry of nature words and the living glory of our distinctive, British countryside. With acrostic spell-poems by peerless wordsmith Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustrations by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the irreplaceable magic of language and nature for all ages.
Genre: Poetry; Nature Writing
Similar: Poetree (Shauna LaVoy Reynolds, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani)
by Margaret Atwood
In Homer’s account in The Odyssey, Penelope—wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy—is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters, and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and—curiously—twelve of her maids. In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids, asking: “What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?” In Atwood’s dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing.
Genre: Mythology; Literary Fiction; Myth re-tellings
Similar: Circe (Madeline Miller)
Nature Guide to the Northern Forest: Exploring the Ecology of the Forests of New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine
by Peter Marchand
Part field guide, part natural history narrative, The Northern Forest will help you identify and understand the complex influences that shape the flora and fauna of northern New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine woods. Readable and enlightening, this book explores topics such as human’s influence on the history of the wild, adaptation of species at high elevations, the turning of the seasons, winter, and climate change. Includes illustrations and photographs to help readers identify plants and animals.
Genre: Nonfiction; Nature Guides; Nature Writing; Science
Similar: Stalking the Wild Asparagus (Euell Gibbons)
by Takis Würger
A blistering and timely novel set at Cambridge University, centering around an all-male dining club for the most privileged and wealthy young men at Cambridge and following an outsider who exposes the dark secrets of this group, the Pitt Club. The club has existed at Cambridge for centuries, its long legacy of tradition and privilege largely unquestioned. As Hans makes his best efforts to prove club material and infiltrate its ranks he is drawn into a world of extravagance, debauchery, and macho solidarity. But there are secrets in the club's history, as well as in its present and Hans soon finds himself in the inner sanctum of what proves to be an increasingly dangerous institution, forced to grapple with the notion that sometimes one must do wrong to do right.
Genre: Mystery; Contemporary
Similar: The Secret History (Donna Tartt)
The Hidden Witch
by Molly Knox Ostertag
Aster and his family are adjusting to his unconventional talent for witchery; unlike the other boys in his family, he isn't a shapeshifter. He's taking classes with his grandmother and helping to keep an eye on his great-uncle whose corrupted magic wreaked havoc on the family. Meanwhile, Aster's friend from the non-magical part of town, Charlie, is having problems of her own - a curse has tried to attach itself to her. She runs to Aster and escapes it, but now the friends must find the source of the curse before more people - normal and magical alike - get hurt.
Genre: Middle Grade; Fantasy; Graphic Novel
Similar: Check out the first book in the series, The Witch Boy (Molly Knox Ostertag)
The Last Unicorn
by Peter S. Beagle
She was magical, beautiful beyond belief -- and completely alone... The unicorn had lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumors carried a message she could not ignore: "Unicorns are gone from the world." Aided by a bumbling magician and a indomitable spinster, she set out to learn the truth. but she feared even her immortal wisdom meant nothing in a world where a mad king's curse and terror incarnate lived only to stalk the last unicorn to her doom...
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy; Classics
Similar: The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper)
by Carolyn Jessop
The dramatic first-person account of life inside an ultra-fundamentalist American religious sect, and one woman’s courageous flight to freedom with her eight children. When she was eighteen years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger: a man thirty-two years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn’s heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church. Over the next fifteen years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband’s psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy. Not only did she manage a daring escape from a brutal environment, she became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. And in 2006, her reports to the Utah attorney general on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of their notorious leader, Warren Jeffs.
Genre: Nonfiction; Biogrpahy & Memoir; Religion
Similar: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (Jon Krakauer)
by Elizabeth McCracken
From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century—nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person—Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious, and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark—with Bertha its most notable resident.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Family Sagas
Similar: Commonwealth (Ann Patchett)
The Selected Poetry
of Edna St. Vincent Millay
One of America’s most celebrated poets—and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923—Edna St. Vincent Millay defined a generation with her passionate lyrics and intoxicating voice of liberation. Edited by Millay biographer Nancy Milford, this Modern Library Paperback Classics collection captures the poet’s unique spirit in works like Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs from This-tles, and Second April, as well as in “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” and eight sonnets from the early twenties. As Milford writes in her Introduction, “These are the poems that made Edna St. Vincent Millay’s reputation when she was young. Saucy, insolent, flip, and defiant, her little verses sting the page.”
Similar: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country
by Pam Houston
“How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us.” In her travels from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska, Pam Houston explores what ties her to the earth—her 120-acre homestead in the Colorado Rockies most of all. Here, elk calves and bluebirds mark the changing seasons, winter temperatures drop to 35 below, and lightning sparks a 110,000-acre wildfire in a dry summer, threatening her century-old barn and its inhabitants. Alongside her devoted Irish wolfhounds, Houston learns what it means to take responsibility for a piece of land and the creatures on it.
Genre: Nonfiction; Essays; Nature Writing; Biography & Memoir
Similar: Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing (Jennifer Weiner)