Welcome to summer, book clubbers. We for one are excited about warm weather, the long sunny days, and the copious amounts of beach reading we’ll accomplish. Whether you’re catching up on your reading for a book club meet-up or meeting with your club to discuss the month’s pick—we won’t shame you for taking a trip to the beach to enjoy sand in your toes and lively conversation about one of these novels below.
This month’s Book Club Favorites pick is the ultimate book club read. It’s historical, fantastical, and a sweeping story of romance, bloodshed, and betrayal. For fans of OUTLANDER and Philippa Gregory, THE LOST QUEEN reveals the untold story of Languoreth—a forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland and the twin sister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin. There’s more to come! THE LOST QUEEN is the first of a trilogy.
Speaking of Book Club Favorites, Hannah (senior manager for Off the Shelf and Book Club Favorites) included THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS in the first installment of Off the Shelf’s #FridayFavorites. We wouldn’t dare question this book club expert’s opinion on this Alice Hoffman gem. When Coralie Sardie—whose father runs a Coney Island freak show—meets Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant photographer, they become embroiled in a moving story of young love in tumultuous times.
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Coralie Sardie’s father runs a Coney Island freak show where she appears as “the Mermaid,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. When she meets Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant photographer, they become embroiled in a moving story of young love in tumultuous times.
For book club readers of THE MOTHERS and AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, Anissa Gray’s debut novel will challenge your beliefs about the relationships between mothers and daughters. When Althea, the eldest of three sisters, is unexpectedly arrested along with her husband, the once highly esteemed family is disgraced in their community. Amid this scandal and familial turmoil, Althea’s younger sisters must come together in the house they grew up to care for Althea’s teen daughters.
Here’s an idea for your book club—after a viewing of Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe, read Helen Hoang’s rom-com novel KISS QUOTIENT and join the trending conversation about Asian characters featured in romantic comedies. This fun novel is about Stella Lane, a mathematician with Asperger’s—and a deep-seated aversion to French kissing—trying to find love. That’s where escort Michael Phan comes in. Michael helps Stella get lots of practice in the love department, and soon Stella can’t help but develop feelings.
NYPD rookies and good friends Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope lead very different lives behind the doors of their neighboring homes. Their friendship—filled with secrets and hidden tensions—is also the start of a lifelong friendship between their children, Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope. But when a shocking tragedy takes place that reverberates over the next 40 years, loyalties are divided and bonds are tested. A powerful story about family and forgiveness, this novel will lead to fiery and moving conversations in your book club.
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy.” —Elle
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.
How much can a family forgive?
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.
Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next 40 years. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while haunted by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.
While we await Colson Whitehead’s new novel, THE NICKEL BOYS, escape this summer to Sag Harbor, New York. Every summer, Benji Cooper leaves his predominantly white neighborhood and high school for Sag Harbor—a small Hamptons-like community of African American professionals. And although he’s just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates the rest of the year, he thinks that the summer of ’85 might be one for the ages.
Benji Cooper is one of the few black students at his elite Manhattan prep school. But every summer, Benji escapes to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own in the Hamptons. And although he’s just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates the rest of the year, he thinks that the summer of ’85 might be one for the ages.
Now available in paperback, THE MARS ROOM is a spectacularly compelling, heartstopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America. Romy Hall is about to start two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility in California’s Central Valley. She must adjust from her old life with her young son to her new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive, the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike, and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living.
TIME’S #1 FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR • NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
FINALIST for the MAN BOOKER PRIZE and the NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
LONGLISTED for the ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL
An instant New York Times bestseller from two-time National Book Award finalist Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room earned tweets from Margaret Atwood—“gritty, empathic, finely rendered, no sugar toppings, and a lot of punches, none of them pulled”—and from Stephen King—“The Mars Room is the real deal, jarring, horrible, compassionate, funny.”
It’s 2003 and Romy Hall, named after a German actress, is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: her young son, Jackson, and the San Francisco of her youth. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, portrayed with great humor and precision.
Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room is “wholly authentic…profound…luminous” (The Wall Street Journal), “one of those books that enrage you even as they break your heart” (The New York Times Book Review, cover review)—a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined and “affirms Rachel Kushner as one of our best novelists” (Entertainment Weekly).
In this razor-sharp novel, Allison finds herself in an uncomfortable situation when she impulsively moves her family from the Texas suburbs to Manhattan. While she is feeling judged and overwhelmed, an unexpected series of events results in her crossing paths with a famous pop star, irrevocably changing her life in the Big Apple. A perfect light and fun read for a warm and breezy day at the beach.
In a smart and funny novel by the author of the critically acclaimed “big-hearted, charming” (The Washington Post) Small Admissions, a family’s move to New York City brings surprises and humor.
Allison Brinkley—wife, mother, and former unflappable optimist—discovers that her decision to pack up and move her family from suburban Dallas to the glittery chaos of Manhattan may have been more complicated than she and her husband initially thought. New York is more unruly and bewildering than she expected, defying the notions she developed from romantic movies and a memorable childhood visit. After a humiliating call from the principal’s office and the loss of the job she was counting on, Allison begins to accept that New York may not suit her after all.
When she has a fender-bender, witnessed by a flock of mothers at her son’s new school, she is led to the penthouse apartment of a luxurious Central Park West building and encounters a spoiled, hungover, unsupervised teenager who looks familiar. It doesn’t take long to recognize him as Carter Reid—a famous pop star who has been cast in a new Broadway musical. Through this brush with stardom, Allison embraces a unique and unexpected opportunity that helps her find her way in the heart of Manhattan.
“A tribute to Broadway, teen celebrity life, and a mother who has now seen it all, this work is tough love at its finest and a great read for those wanting a ride on the wild side” (Booklist, starred review).
Perhaps with the help of your book club, you can get to the bottom of this mystery before the last page. Karen and Tom Krupp’s idyllic suburban life is upended when Karen gets into a car accident and, bizarrely, cannot remember what she was doing or how it occurred. Even stranger, when Karen returns home, things don’t feel quite right. Things have been moved, secrets infest their family home, and she can’t shake the feeling that someone’s been in her house.