Pescosolido Librarian’s Summer Reading List 2024

Pescosolido Librarian’s Summer Reading List 2024

It’s time again for my summer reading list, and this year I think there’s something for everyone — from literary and historical fiction to time travel and a thriller. I hope everyone finds some time to relax and enjoy a great book!

Fire Exit by Morgan Talty (June 4)
Charles lives across the river from the life he really wants — the woman he loves, his daughter, and the tribe. He grew up on the Penobscot reservation because of his stepfather, but his lack of Native blood keeps him from land ownership and enrollment. Morgan Talty’s Fire Exit explores themes of bloodlines, family, guilt, and responsibility as Charles struggles with his place in the world. Talty knows how to squeeze emotion into his sparse writing, and gives readers a portrait of a damaged man who cannot find his place between two cultures. This is a difficult but excellent book for literary fiction readers who enjoy indigenous stories and contemporary family dramas.

The God of the Woods by Liz Moore (July 2)
It’s rare when solid writing, a great, page-turning thriller, and believable, well-drawn characters coalesce, but Liz Moore has done it (again) with The God of the Woods. In 1975, Barbara Van Laar disappears from her cabin at camp — a camp owned by her family and just down the road from their estate in the Adirondacks. It’s also the same place her brother disappeared from 14 years earlier. Seamlessly moving between times and characters, Moore follows the later investigation through a young female investigator — the first in the state — while sprinkling information from the 1961 incident. Any reader who enjoys thrillers and family sagas should reach for The God of the Woods.

Last House by Jessica Shattuck (May)
Shattuck’s newest historical fiction examines the political shift of the country from the 1950s to the 1970s through the lens of the Taylor family. Nick and Bet marry as soon as he returns from WWII, and they soon find themselves living the American dream in the suburbs on Nick’s job with a large oil company. Their two children, Katherine and Harry, enter the 1970s filled with protests — some even aimed at their father’s business. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will find an emotional book about generational change at a complicated time in US history, and the intricacies of family legacy.

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley (May)
I am a sucker for time travel novels, so I couldn’t resist The Ministry of Time by debut author Kaliane Bradley. In the near future, an unnamed government worker in London gets chosen for a secret mission to become a “bridge” for Graham Gore, a time-traveling expat from the 1840s into the 21st century. Unbeknownst to her, much about the mission is not as it seems, and she must unravel the truth while also dealing with her feelings for Graham. Bradley attempts to tackle a lot of issues including racism, loyalty, who writes history, faith, etc. under the guise of a thriller/romance, but I enjoyed all of it. Ministry of Time is a bit long, has some romantic scenes, and is very British in language and humor — so if none of those things scare you away this is a great read.

One of Our Kind by Nicola Yoon (June 11)
Yoon’s first foray into adult fiction is part allegory and part dystopian thriller. Jasmyn and King Williams are living the dream and moving to the new LA affluent suburb of Liberty where the population is 100% Black. Once there, Jasmyn feels like something strange is happening, and even though it’s pretty obvious to readers, it takes Jasmyn a bit longer to figure it out. Even with the obvious twists, anyone looking for a quick, page-turner with themes of social justice and race should give One of Our Kind a try.

Sandwich by Catherine Newman (June 18)
I love what Catherine Newman did in We All Want Impossible Things — somehow making a book about dying excruciatingly funny. With Sandwich, she turns her often hilarious prose towards marriage, motherhood, menopause, grown children, and beach houses, among other things. Rocky and her family return to the same rental in Sandwich, MA where they have vacationed for more than 20 years and the week brings back memories both good and bad. If you need plot in your novels then Sandwich may not be for you, but if you want painfully funny commentary —and sometimes just the pain — of middle age, beach rentals, and parenting then grab a copy of Sandwich.

Shanghailanders by Juli Min (May)
I love an unconventional structure, so of course I couldn’t resist Shanghailanders which actually moves backward from 2040 to 2014 following a wealthy Shanghai family. Min’s writing deftly captures a variety of voices and moments that ring true about marriage, raising children, life abroad, and family. The structure inevitably leads to a book with very little true plot that feels a lot more like a collection of short stories than a novel, but one with enduring themes and interesting characters.

The Wedding People by Alison Espach (July 30)
Espach expertly walks the tightrope between beach read and deeper literary fiction with this one. Phoebe arrives at a fancy Newport hotel to realize that she is the only guest not part of an extravagant wedding about to happen there. She quickly finds herself caught up with the families and their drama while she deals with her own life that she left behind in St. Louis. Espach brings a lot of humor to some serious topics, and although predictable, it’s still an enjoyable read for those looking for something a step above a typical summer book.

Where the Forest Meets the River by Shannon Bowring (Sept. 3)
Last summer I put Bowring’s debut novel, The Road to Dalton, on the summer reading list, so I couldn’t resist adding her next book even though the September publishing date makes it a bit late for a summer read. Where the Forest Meets the River picks up in Dalton five years later, following some new characters and some familiar ones. Bowring’s knack for small-town details and character development is again on display and makes this book as successful as the first. Where the Forest Meets the River can be read without having read The Road to Dalton, but why? I highly recommend both books to those who like family stories and multi-person narratives like Elizabeth Strout, Emma Straub, and J. Ryan Stradal.

-Paula Kass, Director of Library Services