Spotlight: Staff Summer Reading Faves

Waiting on the holds list for a bestseller? Why not try something not so new that you don’t have to wait for? Here are some staff recommendations for summer reading.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

marriagerichpeopleBored with retirement, Mr. Ali sets up a desk, puts up a sign, and waits for customers for his new matchmaking business. Some clients are a mystery. Some are a challenge. Mr. Ali’s assistant, Aruna, finds it a learning experience. But without a dowry, Aruna has no expectation of a match for herself. Then again, as people go about planning their lives, sometimes fate is making other arrangements. – Summary from Amazon

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

capturecastleI Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills.  She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle’s walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has “captured the castle”–and the heart of the reader–in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments. – Amazon summary

A favorite book of J.K. Rowling’s. Also a movie.

The House in France  by Gully Wells
houseinfranceSet in Provence, London, and New York, this is a daughter’s brilliant and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather—Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher—and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything.
The House in France is a spellbinding story with a luminous sense of place and a dazzling portrait of a woman who “caught the spirit of the sixties” and one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, drawn from the vivid memory of the child who adored them both.

 That Summer in Sicily by Marlena De Blasi 
summersicily“At villa Donnafugata, long ago is never very far away,” writes bestselling author Marlena de Blasi of the magnificent if somewhat ruined castle in the mountains of Sicily that she finds, accidentally, one summer while traveling with her husband, Fernando. There de Blasi is befriended by Tosca, the patroness of the villa, an elegant and beautiful woman-of-a-certain-age who recounts her lifelong love story with the last prince of Sicily descended from the French nobles of Anjou.
aristotleanddanteFifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.
  • 2012 Won School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
  • 2013 Nominated Michael L. Printz Award
  • 2013 Won American Library Association Notable Books for Children
  • 2013 Won Pura Belpre Award
  • 2013 Won Stonewall Book Awards

Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart
perigordBarber Guillaume Ladoucette has always enjoyed great success in his tiny village in southwestern France, catering to the tonsorial needs of Amour-sur-Belle’s thirty-three inhabitants. But times have changed. His customers have grown older–and balder. Suddenly there is no longer a call for Guillaume’s particular services, and he is forced to make a drastic career change. Since love and companionship are necessary commodities at any age, he becomes Amour-sur-Belle’s official matchmaker and intends to unite hearts as ably as he once cut hair. But alas, Guillaume is not nearly as accomplished an agent of amour, as the disastrous results of his initial attempts amply prove, especially when it comes to arranging his own romantic future.
tomgordonStaff says: This is the perfect quick summer read.  It takes place in June, features some baseball, and has plenty of chills.
Summary: The brochure promised a “moderate-to-difficult” six-mile hike on the Maine-New Hampshire branch of the Appalachian Trail, where nine-year-old Trisha McFarland was to spend Saturday with her older brother Pete and her recently divorced mother. When she wanders off to escape their constant bickering, then tries to catch up by attempting a shortcut through the woods, Trisha strays deeper into a wilderness full of peril and terror. Especially when night falls.
Trisha has only her wits for navigation, only her ingenuity as a defense against the elements, only her courage and faith to withstand her mounting fear. For solace she tunes her Walkman to broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games and the gritty performances of her hero, number thirty-six, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. And when her radio’s reception begins to fade, Trisha imagines that Tom Gordon is with her-her key to surviving an enemy known only by the slaughtered animals and mangled trees in its wake.

Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott

childofmyheart1Staff says: “She writes with careful detail and makes one summer in 1960s Long Island come alive.”
The beautiful child of older parents, raised on the eastern end of Long Island, Theresa is her town’s most sought-after babysitter–cheerful, poised, an effortless storyteller, a wonder with children and animals. Among her charges this fateful summer is Daisy, her younger cousin, who has come to spend a few quiet weeks in this bucolic place. While Theresa copes with the challenge presented by the neighborhood’s waiflike children, the tumultuous households of her employers, the attentions of an aging painter, and Daisy’s fragility of body and spirit, her precocious, tongue-in-check sense of order is tested as she makes the perilous crossing into adulthood. In her deeply etched rendering of all that happened that seemingly idyllic season, McDermott once again peers into the depths of everyday life with inimitable insight and grace. – summary from Amazon
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
maineStaff notes: “It’s June and a family gathers at their beach house on the coast of Maine. Differing viewpoints, some secrets, and lots of family dynamics drive this novel.”
Three generations of women converge on the family beach house in this wickedly funny, emotionally resonant story of love and dysfunction.- summary from catalog
BonhoefferStaff says: This is a well-done highly readable biography of a great man.
“Bonhoeffer” presents a profoundly orthodox Christian theologian whose faith led him to boldly confront the greatest evil of the 20th century, and uncovers never-before-revealed facts, including the story of his passionate romance.
  • 2011 Nominated Christian Book Awards
  • 2010 Won ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards
  • 2011 Won Christopher Book Awards

 —

iammalalaWhen the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9, 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price. – summary from catalog
This book is also very popular with young adults, so they have created a different version for “Young Readers” – request the book here.
The Union Street Bakery  by Mary Ellen Taylor
And check out the sequel – Sweet Expectations 
unionstreetDaisy McCrae’s life is in tatters. She’s lost her job, broken up with her boyfriend, and has been reduced to living in the attic above her family’s store, the Union Street Bakery, while learning the business. Unfortunately, the bakery is in serious hardship. Making things worse is the constant feeling of not being a “real” McCrae since she was adopted as a child and has a less-than-perfect relationship with her two sisters.

Then a long-standing elderly customer passes away, and for some reason bequeaths Daisy a journal dating back to the 1850s, written by a slave girl named Susie. As she reads, Daisy learns more about her family–and her own heritage–than she ever dreamed. Haunted by dreams of the young Susie, who beckons Daisy to “find her,” she is compelled to look further into the past of the town and her family.

Watching You by Michael Robotham
watchingyouMarnie Logan often feels like she’s being watched: a warm breath on the back of her neck, or a shadow in the corner of her eye that vanishes when she turns her head. Now her life is frozen. Her husband Daniel is missing. She can’t access his bank accounts or his life insurance. Depressed and increasingly desperate, she seeks the help of clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. O’Loughlin discovers Daniel’s Big Red Book–a collage of pictures, interviews, and anecdotes. The book, which Daniel intended as a surprise birthday gift, now leads to a shocking discovery. Any person who has ever crossed Marnie has paid an exacting price. And O’Loughlin may be next in line. – publisher summary
Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse
before we metWhen her husband disappears during a business trip to the U.S., Hannah, who believes she has married the perfect man, begins to have doubts when his co-workers tell a different story, prompting her to dig into his life, which unexpectedly leads her to a place of violence and fear. -catalog summary
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
shadowdiversStaff notes: Looking for some great narrative nonfiction? This might be it! Also a good choice for young adults and teens.
For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.
But in the fall of 1991, not even these courageous divers were prepared for what they found 230 feet below the surface, in the frigid Atlantic waters sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey: a World War II German U-boat, its ruined interior a macabre wasteland of twisted metal, tangled wires, and human bones–all buried under decades of accumulated sediment. – Amazon summary
  • 2005 Won Alex Awards
  • 2005 Won Book Sense Book of the Year
  • 2007 Nominated Garden State Teen Book Award
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
thestrangersDr. Faraday, the son of a maid, has built a life of quiet respectability as a doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life?
  • 2009 Nominated Man Booker Prize for Fiction
  • 2009 Won Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
  • 2009 Won New York Times Notable Books of the Year

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
also try the sequel:  Bring Up the Bodies

wolf hallIn the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power.England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

  • 2009 Won Man Booker Prize for Fiction
  • 2009 Nominated Costa Book Awards
  • 2009 Won National Book Critics Circle Awards
  • 2009 Won Library Journal Best Books of the Year
  • 2010 Nominated Orange Prize for Fiction
  • 2010 Won Audie Award
  • 2010 Won Galaxy National Book Award
  • 2009 Won New York Times Notable Books of the Year
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
montana“From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting than any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fade them… “ So begins David Hayden’s story of what happened in Montana in 1948. The events of that cataclysmic summer permanently alter twelve-year-old David’s understanding of his family: his father, a small-town sheriff; his remarkably strong mother; David’s uncle Frank, a war hero and respected doctor; and the Haydens’ Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations turn the family’s life upside down as she relates how Frank has been molesting his female Indian patients. As their story unravels around David, he learns that truth is not what one believes it to be, that power is abused, and that sometimes one has to choose between family loyalty and justice. – summary from Amazon
Close to Shore by Mike Capuzzo
This book was also made into a youth version, check it out!
closetoshoreCombining rich historical detail and a harrowing, pulse-pounding narrative, Close to Shore brilliantly re-creates the summer of 1916, when a rogue Great White shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.
Interweaving a vivid portrait of the era and meticulously drawn characters with chilling accounts of the shark’s five attacks and the frenzied hunt that ensued, Michael Capuzzo has created a nonfiction historical thriller with the texture of Ragtime and the tension of Jaws. – summary from Amazon
Ranger Confidential by Andrea Lankford

rangerconfidentialFor twelve years, Andrea Lankford lived in the biggest, most impressive national parks in the world, working a job she loved. She chaperoned baby sea turtles on their journey to sea. She pursued bad guys on her galloping patrol horse. She jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the heart of the Grand Canyon. She won arguments with bears. She slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.

In this graphic and yet surprisingly funny account of her and others’ extraordinary careers, Lankford unveils a world in which park rangers struggle to maintain their idealism in the face of death, disillusionment, and the loss of a comrade killed while holding that thin green line between protecting the park from the people, the people from the park, and the people from each other.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
thatoldcapemagicFor Griffin, all paths, all memories, converge at Cape Cod.  The Cape is where he took his childhood summer vacations, where he and his wife, Joy, honeymooned, where they decided he’d leave his LA screenwriting job to become a college professor, and where they celebrated the marriage of their daughter Laura’s best friend. But when their beloved Laura’s wedding takes place a year later, Griffin is caught between chauffeuring his mother’s and father’s ashes in two urns and contending with Joy and her large, unruly family. Both he and she have also brought dates along. How in the world could this have happened?
The Wedding by Dorothy West
theweddingOn the island of Martha’s Vineyard in the 1950s there exists a proud, insular, nearly unassailable community known as the Oval, made up of the best and brightest of New York’s and Boston’s black bourgeoisie. Dr. Clark Coles and his wife Corinne, pillars of this community, are mortified that their youngest daughter Shelby is set on marrying Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. Equally alarmed is Lute McNeil, a successful black furniture maker from Boston who is new to Oak Bluffs and desperate for social acceptance. Lute has fallen in love with Shelby Coles, or at least the way of life she represents, and he will stop at nothing to pull her away from Meade. As the day of the wedding approaches, the tension surrounding Shelby, Lute, and Meade builds, climaxing in a single tragic act that will forever change the lives of three American families.The Wedding is a wise and heartfelt novel about the shackles of race and class we all wear and the price we pay to break them. It is also an unforgettable history of the rise of the black middle class, written by a woman who lived it. Wise, heartfelt, and shattering,The Wedding is Dorothy West’s crowning achievement, and one of the last books edited for Doubleday by the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Shoot The Moon by Billie Letts
shootthemoon1In 1972, windswept DeClare, Oklahoma, was consumed by the murder of a young mother, Gaylene Harjo, and the disappearance of her baby, Nicky Jack. When the child’s pajama bottoms were discovered on the banks of Willow Creek, everyone feared that he, too, had been killed, although his body was never found.

Nearly thirty years later, Nicky Jack mysteriously returns to DeClare, shocking the town and stirring up long-buried memories. But what he discovers about the night he vanished is more astonishing than he or anyone could have imagine. Piece by piece, what emerges is a story of dashed hopes, desperate love, and a secret that still cries out for justice…and redemption.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle 
heatwaveHeat Wave is a tie-in to the ABC primetime show, Castle, that premiered in March 2009. The main character of the show, Richard Castle, is a bestselling mystery writer. Heat Wave is his next book: Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City’s top homicide squads. She’s hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York’s Finest. Pulitzer Prize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren’t her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them.

 

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