June 5, 2018

Recommended Summer Reads from BAPL Staff!

Summer vacation is a good time to read a great book! We polled the BAPL staff for recommendations by simply asking them “what’s a good book you’ve read recently?” You might find your next great book below! The list includes children’s books, novels, non-fiction, and more. Follow the link to place the item on reserve in our catalog.
The English Wife by Lauren Willig: The year is 1899. The gala Twelfth Night partying of Old Knickerbocker society comes to a halt when the host is found murdered and his (English-born) wife simultaneously disappears. The story has elements of mystery on two levels, leading to a dramatic conclusion that is almost cinematic in its vividness. I found this novel very difficult to put down! Recommended by David

The Dry by Jane Harper: A man returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend.  An engrossing, suspense filled, murder mystery told in the present tense with flashbacks that might illuminate characters’ attitudes. If you like this one, then next up is her new book, Force of Nature.  Recommended by Sarah

Stay Awake by Dan Chaon: This collection will make you feel uncomfortable in all the right ways. Chaon gives you a look into the lives of characters that come face to face with personal horrors which seem to seep from the past to the present and from dreams to reality. Chaon’s writing style leaves you wondering what’s real and what’s not and might make you look closer at your own strange life. Recommended by Janine

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: When a 17 year old girl in foster care ends up doing community service hours helping a very wealthy 90 year old woman, they are surprised to find how much they have in common.  Many years before, the elderly woman had been put on the Orphan Train, taken to the Mid-West by the Children’s Aid Society, and given away to anyone who wanted help.  Surprising, but logical, twists and turns bring these two together in a small Maine town.  Because it is based on history, the story is at times disturbing but ultimately uplifting.  Well written.  Recommended by Donna

Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray: Clover, a wife and mother in her fifties, wakes up one morning and discovers she is invisible. Incredibly, it takes two weeks for her husband and grown son to realize it. She joins a support group of invisible women and they work together to find a solution to their plight. Humorous and well written, this book caught my attention and kept me interested right up to the end. Recommended by Ellie

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.  A stunning novel told in three alternating voices, that of Roy and Celeste, a married couple, and Andre, Celeste’s childhood friend and also Roy’s college friend. When Roy is accused and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, Celeste finds comfort and strength in her lifelong friendship with Andre. In each of their stories, we are taken into the heart of their mental and emotional struggles, traversing topics of identity, self-knowledge, love, marriage, infidelity, loss, race and injustice. I was consistently amazed at how the author found the language to give voice to each character as they reflected upon their own values and actions. Had I known the wisdom in this book, I would have started with pen and journal handy to fill with amazing quotes. “Is it love, or is it convenience?… She explained that convenience, habit, comfort, obligation- these are all things that wear the same clothing as love sometimes.” Recommended by Regina

Try these two picture books for Summer bedtime stories, Recommended by Catherine

Windows by Julia Denos: As a young boy walks through the neighborhood at dusk, he sees many different scenes through lighted windows. A calm and quiet read that lends itself to a family walk the next night.

The Boy and the Blue Moon by Sara O’Leary: “On the night of the blue moon, anything can happen,” said the boy. And it does. A walk with his cat takes him through the nighttime forest and then on to the moon, where they share a space-eye view of the Blue Planet, Earth. A good companion to Windows, with most pages heavily saturated in deep blue.

Like audiobooks?

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music by Robert Greenberg: I’ve been listening to this great book on CD — it is a series of lectures given by Robert Greenberg. Although I’m just finishing up the first set of 8 lectures, I’ve learned a lot and his sense of humor is wonderful. All in all, a lot more fun than I would have expected! Recommended by Dawn

Children’s and Young Adult novels

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend: In this humorous middle-grade book, eleven-year-old Morrigan Crow enters the magical world of Nevermoor, where she must compete to become a member of the Wundrous Society.  Perfect for fans of Harry Potter. Recommended by Krysta

Royals by Rachel Hawkins: Daisy Winters didn’t ask to be thrust into the spotlight (and the tabloids) but when her older sister gets engaged to the prince of Scotland, Daisy’s world gets turned upside down. A great young adult read, especially in the wake of the royal wedding.  Recommended by Jenne

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter: Maddie and Logan were best friends. Until the night Russians attempted to kidnap Logan’s mom, the First Lady of the United States. Now Maddie’s dad, a former Secret Service agent, has dragged Maddie to the middle of nowhere, Alaska, and Logan hasn’t answered her letters in years. But all of that is about to change when Logan pushes his parents too far and they send him to the one place he can’t get into trouble–Alaska. Recommended by Jenne

Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli: The story of 12 year old Lorraine and her family and the hardships they endured during the Irish potato famine.   A family of tenant farmers, Lorraine, her parents, and little brother Paddy discover their blighted crops, acknowledge the dire consequences, and look for ways to survive.  Their close knit community of farmers share and help one another in the face of starvation, sickness, and death.  This is an overwhelmingly sad tale of a strong girl who goes to great lengths to help others survive.  She befriends a wealthy English landowner’s daughter who comes to understand the farmer’s plight, and provides Lorraine with eggs that feed many desperate families.  As their close friends leave Ireland, Lorraine’s family remains on the land that they love.  The book provides much information on the famine but also gives readers a feel for Irish culture and tradition, interweaving Irish words into the text.  A glossary and timeline of Irish history provide additional information and clarification for the reader. Recommended by Dana

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff: Conveys what it was like on the World War II home front for Lily and her Grandmother.  The two spend the summer of 1944 at the family summer house in Rockaway.  Lily’s father has recently joined U.S. forces in Europe and her best friend in Rockaway moved away to follow the family to better employment opportunities.  Lily, left to her own devices, finds interesting, sometimes questionable, ways to spend her time alone, but longs for a friend.  She is introduced to Albert, a refugee from Hungary, who has lost everything.  Together, they navigate uncertainty, loss, grief, great adventure, and eventually hope.  Readers are introduced to the war era from a child’s perspective, one that holds on the belief that anything is possible.  This is a great, classic read that I am glad I finally picked up. Recommended by Dana

Here are a few non-fiction picks

An epidemic of absence : a new way of understanding allergies and autoimmune diseases by Moises Velasquez-Manoff is fascinating. Well-researched and finely written–poses the question: How do we balance the benefits of scientific discovery with thousands of years of hard-wired human evolution? Reads like a thriller memoir. In order to bring home the drama of his thesis, Velasquez-Manoff documents his personal struggles with autoimmune disease. WARNING: Has a definite “ick” factor–Hookworms may be beneficial? Ewwwww. Recommended by Valerie

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks: Gratitude is a great small read for people encountering Sacks’ work for the first time. With his selection of words and unraveling tales, he guides us to look inwards and reflect upon life as mortal beings. Recommended by Ari

I’m Keith Hernandez by Keith Hernandez: I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t Hernandez famous for being on The Mets? And also for his mustache? True on both accounts. And although I love mustaches, as a Phillies fan I distinctly don’t love The Mets. However Hernandez has written a fantastic baseball memoir here. It’s more reflective and literary than the typical sports memoir. Hernandez includes poignant tales of his childhood as well as on-the-field moments illustrating his career from the minors to big-league superstar. Highly recommended for baseball fans! Recommended by Josh

Book recommendations