Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson, recommended by Megan C.
If you’re interested in the world of publishing, you’ll connect with Must Love Books’ protagonist, Nora. When she accepted a “steppingstone job” at a publishing company, Nora thought she was one step closer to her dream job. But after 5 years of ordering sandwiches, she’s losing herself and the bright industry of books is starting to dim. With themes of purpose, identity, vocation, and finding joy in the mundane, Robinson also touches on struggles of race, anxiety, and depression. Relatable and human, lovers of Such a Fun Age and The Bookish Life of Nina Hill will enjoy this debut novel.
Messianic Reveal by Ethan Burroughs, recommended by Penny
Clayton Haley is a foreign officer who is just trying to do his job, which is mostly issuing visas. An application comes across his desk that seems suspicious; however, not to others. In the process of verifying the information, he triggers a cascade of unfortunate events. The simple act of doing his job puts himself and others at risk, unfolding a complex and intriguing web of international terror. Suspense and international intrigue engage the conflict of the Middle East. The process informs the reader about the complex relationships that exist in that region.
Every Summer After by Carley Fortune, recommended by Karen
Told over the course of six years and one weekend, this is a fun summer read of friendship, growth, forgiveness, second chances, and love. The author’s description of the local area (Barry’s Bay, Ontario) makes one feel like they’re really at a lake cabin on the bay, and that the characters are people you may have been friends with as a teen. I read this on Cloud Library – and have requested a hard copy for our library.
Midnight Library by Matt Haig, recommended by Meg
TW: Mention of Suicide and Substance Abuse
Nora is a 20-something nobody filled with a lot of regrets. She’s had many opportunities for greatness, or what she thinks could have been, and becomes overwhelmed with heartache and what could have been. The final straw being the loss of her cat, Nora decides to “give up” on this life. Little does she know this is only the beginning of her story. Nora is transported to the Midnight Library, a mysterious library filled with books all about… her? Every decision she’s made leads to a different book she can explore, a different ending, a different path, a different life. In this library Nora is able to delve into the titles of her would have, could have, and should have alternate lives. But does Nora truly believe her life is just a book of regrets? And will she ever be able to escape the Midnight Library?
Martha Stewart’s Appetizers by Martha Stewart, recommended by Leah & Megan C.
Martha Stewart puts the “app” in “happy” with her cookbook that’s exclusively appetizers! With over 200 recipes, party planning tips, serving ideas, and cocktail concoctions, Stewart proves herself to be the authority on cooking and hosting. Even the fanciest recipes are made approachable and easy-to-follow. During our library cooking show Biblio Bites, we were surprised by the simplicity of the French Cheese Puffs (known as Gougères), and how many of the recipes allowed for versatility and customization. From boujee to backyard barbeque, Stewart has a recipe for every occasion!
The Swimmers: A Novel by Julia Otsuka, recommended by Vicki
Typical of Otsuka, her latest novel is an understated, slender, stunning look at the human condition. It begins in an underground community pool, where dedicated (family members may claim obsessed) swimmers take their laps until they discover a crack in the pool floor that slowly splinters. The pool closes and the seasoned swimmers are set adrift. None more than Alice who used the pool to shield against the onslaught of dementia. Without the buoyant, rhythmic repetition propelling her through the water, her descent is swift and she lands in a long-term care facility where she spends the first week wandering “the halls, looking under beds” and calling out for her husband.
Otsuka begins this novel as the collective “we,” but narrows the focus to an intimate capsule of loss and understanding, and moments we’re allowed to keep. This quiet narrative will linger long after the last page.
Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell, recommended by Megan S.
Challenging our notions of what a “cult” really is, Amanda Montell explores well-known cults like the Children of God and Heaven’s Gate but goes beyond them to movements like fitness crazes, which aren’t necessarily “cults” but share many similarities. She questions how cults develop, why people feel drawn to them, and whether they are always dangerous. According to Montell, most of us have something “cultlike” we participate in during our everyday life, whether it’s knowing the special chants of your favorite sports team or making time to hop on your favorite exercise bike at the gym every day, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s part of what makes us able to function in society. She shares some fascinating history and psychology with a dose of humor and readable, frank honesty.