There are always a few titles that manage to capture the imaginations of the masses. The hype around these select titles inevitably results in long hold lists at our local library. However, we would be lying if we said that we didn’t enjoy—to some extent—the mounting anticipation that comes with waiting for our time to finally check out the book that everyone is talking about. Here are the library books we have on hold that we will drop everything to read once it’s our turn in line—finally!
Sarah’s Pick: I’ve been captivated by CRISPR since I first heard about it on a microbe reading binge, a gene-editing tool likened to a pair of scissors isolating and snipping away unwanted DNA. Jennifer Doudna is a Nobel Prize winner and one of the researchers who helped discover CRISPR. It is exciting to get an entire book about someone on the front lines of this new technology that is a potential game changer both in helping heal diseases and in the type of control we may have over our bodies, and it’s sure to be fascinating and informative, while raising all sorts of moral questions. My local Pennsylvania library has an eighteen-week hold on the ebook and twenty-week hold on the audiobook. It looks like many others are just as eager to dive in as I am.
The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.
When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.
Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.
The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.
Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?
After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.
Courtney’s Pick: I’ve had THE EX TALK on hold at my library since it came out on January 26. As of this writing, I only have two weeks left! I can’t wait to get the Libby notification that the book is finally ready to be borrowed. Hopefully, I won’t be in the middle of anything important, because I will be devouring this story in one sitting. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a book about a radio show that has two exes on air, talking through their relationship and giving advice to listeners? An enemies-to-lovers story set against the backdrop of an industry that values truth has me hooked before I even read the first page, and I know Rachel Lynn Solomon (also the author of fantastic YA books such as TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW) will deliver. On another note, can we make this show a reality? I know I would tune in.
Emily’s Pick #1: Fredrik Backman books always have a large library waitlist, however his newest, ANXIOUS PEOPLE, seems to be especially booked (pun intended). I think a big reason is its intriguing premise of strangers from all walks of life brought together when a robber holds them hostage. Especially during the pandemic, this description promises to hold the perfect mix of connection, thrill, and comfort that I know I’m looking for—and it seems everyone else at my library is looking for as well!
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and “writer of astonishing depth” (The Washington Times) comes a poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.
Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.
Emily’s Pick #2: The summer season will be here before we know it, and I’m preparing now! Since e-readers make the perfect beach accessory, get those digital library hold requests in now, so that they arrive right on time for your first outdoor summer adventure. I recommend BIG SUMMER by Jennifer Weiner, which takes place during an extravagant Cape Cod wedding filled enough drama to read the day away: a tense, toxic friendship, thought-provoking themes such as body positivity, and even a dark turn into murder mystery territory.
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Sexy and satisfying, Big Summer is the perfect quarantine read.” —USA TODAY
“The beach read to end all beach reads.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Big fun, and then some. It’s empowering and surprising—a reminder to put down the phone and enjoy each moment for what it is.” —The Washington Post
A deliciously funny, remarkably poignant, and simply unputdownable novel about the power of friendship, the lure of frenemies, and the importance of making peace with yourself through all life’s ups and downs. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Good in Bed and Best Friends Forever, Big Summer is the perfect escape with one of the most lovable heroines to come to the page in years.
Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.
Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.
A sparkling novel about the complexities of female relationships, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.
Sharon’s Pick #1: Since reading the Off the Shelf post “12 Heart-Stirring Books New in Paperback This February,” I have been highly interested in reading Lydia Millet’s novel A CHILDREN’S BIBLE. It’s centered around a band of twelve precocious children, who rebel against their neglectful parents by venturing away from the mansion in which they’ve been vacationing. Soon, they encounter events of biblical proportions quite literally, as stories from the children’s Bible begin coming to life. I made a mental note to myself to mark this as a priority fiction title, and luckily, on one of my digital library browses, I noticed that A CHILDREN’S BIBLE had a short hold list. I can’t wait to read this book in the near future!
Sharon’s Pick #2: I have been diligently trying to follow my TBR list, but the more I browse digital library apps such as Hoopla and Libby, the more I stray from my original list. When I discovered the premise of THE ECHO WIFE, I completely caved and requested the book from my library immediately. Award-winning scientist Dr. Evelyn Caldwell’s husband has used her research to create a clone of her, the patient and obedient Martine. When Evelyn discovers that Martine and her husband have been having an affair, he ends up dead, leaving Evelyn and Martine to clean up the mess. THE ECHO WIFE promises to examine familiar bioethical discussions in a new light, and it begs the question: “What would you do if your significant other was having an affair with your clone?”
Photo credit: iStock / Chinnapong