The 10 Most Popular Books of July

July 30 2021
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With just a few months left to wrap up those summer reading lists, the battle for final book of summer is on! Drop these most popular books into the ring and maybe you’ll find out why everyone’s been talking away about them of Off the Shelf!

The Girl from Venice
by Martin Cruz Smith

Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman’s body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.

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The Girl from Venice
Martin Cruz Smith

From Martin Cruz Smith, “a master of the international thriller” (The New York Times), a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice.

Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman’s body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the Wehrmacht. Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia rather than hand her over to the Nazis. This act of kindness leads them into the world of Partisans, random executions, the arts of forgery and high explosives, Mussolini’s broken promises, the black market and gold, and, everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon.

With Martin Cruz Smith’s trademark suspense, action, and breathtaking romance during World War II Italy, The Girl from Venice is “a gripping evocation of a beautiful nation and of two people, trapped in the lunacy of war and the bravery it can inspire” (The Seattle Times).

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The Storyteller
by Jodi Picoult

Sage Singer is a baker, who works through the night so that no one sees her scarred face and while grieving the loss of her parents. She has only a few friends, including the elderly Josef Weber from her grief support group, who is also a loyal bakery patron. When Josef opens up about a terrible secret, and asks Sage to help end his life, she has a difficult choice to make. THE STORYTELLER is a testament to Jodi Picoult’s prowess as a writer, and she has crafted a story with characters so enthralling, you’ll find it hard to put it down. Not to mention the last-minute twist that will turn the entire story on its head in the best possible way.

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The Storyteller
Jodi Picoult

An astonishing novel about redemption and forgiveness from the “amazingly talented writer” (HuffPost) and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult.

Some stories live forever...

Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shame­ful secret and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths to which we will go in order to keep the past from dictating the future.

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The Forest of Vanishing Stars
by Kristin Harmel

Fans of Kristin Harmel are in for a harrowing story with her newest novel, THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS. This vivid novel set in World War II follows one young woman with a keen sense of knowledge of the wilderness. After being stolen from her parents in Germany and raised in the wilderness of eastern Europe, Yona suddenly finds herself alone in 1941 after the woman who kidnapped and raised her dies. But her solitude does not last long. After happening upon a group of Jews fleeing from the Nazis, Yona vows to teach them everything she knows about surviving the treacherous forest, despite their skepticism of her trustworthiness. This is a heartbreaking story based on a real event during the Nazi era.

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The Forest of Vanishing Stars
Kristin Harmel

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times).

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The Gilded Years
by Karin Tanabe

Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families. Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. But as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.

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The Gilded Years
Karin Tanabe

Passing meets The House of Mirth in this “utterly captivating” (Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House) historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white—until she let herself grow too attached to the wrong person.

Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.

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Cloud Cuckoo Land
by Anthony Doerr

As Anthony Doerr explains in this video, he likes to base his stories around a particular invention that he finds fascinating. In ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE it was the radio. In his upcoming novel CLOUD CUCKOO LAND, it’s one of the greatest and most ancient of inventions—books! In this world-expanding new work, five people throughout time and space care deeply for a manuscript, and go to extreme lengths to keep the stories in it alive. For a story that begins in the first century and ends in 2146, and somehow manages to feel both grand and intimate at the same time, pick up a copy of CLOUD CUCKOO LAND on September 28.

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Cloud Cuckoo Land
Anthony Doerr

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time, comes a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story.

The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are trying to figure out the world around them: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of peril.

An ancient text—the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky—provides solace and mystery to these unforgettable characters. Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone.

Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.

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You Were Always Mine
by Nicole Baart

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

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You Were Always Mine
Nicole Baart

“An electrifying family drama that shows the dark side of adoption, You Were Always Mine is the kind of book you will want to finish in one sitting.” —Bustle

The acclaimed author of Little Broken Things returns with another “race-to-the-finish family drama” (People) about a single mother who becomes embroiled in a mystery that threatens to tear apart what’s left of her family.

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.

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The Other Passenger
by Louise Candlish

If you’re a fan of Ruth Ware’s or Lisa Jewell’s books, then THE OTHER PASSENGER should be next on your list! This story fits so perfectly with those other writers’ thrillers, given its sense of foreboding and tension throughout. Jamie’s commuting buddy Kit has gone missing, and now the police want to question Jamie after finding out the two had a fight during their ferry ride the day before Kit disappeared. But Jamie had nothing to do with the disappearance, so why does he feel like he’s in danger? This had me reading into the night to figure out what was happening!

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The Other Passenger
Louise Candlish

The “queen of the sucker-punch twist” (Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author) and author of Our House weaves “a stunning masterwork of style and suspense” (Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author) about a commuter who becomes a suspect in his friend’s mysterious disappearance. Perfect for fans of the unputdownable page-turners by Christina McDonald and Lisa Jewell.

It all happens so quickly. One day you’re living the dream, commuting to work by ferry with your charismatic neighbor Kit in the seat beside you. The next, Kit hasn’t turned up for the boat and his wife, Melia, has reported him missing.

When you get off at your stop, the police are waiting. Another passenger saw you and Kit arguing on the boat home the night before and the police say that you had a reason to want him dead. You protest. You and Kit are friends—ask Melia, she’ll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your lives?

No, whatever danger followed you home last night, you are innocent, totally innocent.

Aren’t you?

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The Last Thing He Told Me
by Laura Dave

What would you do if you found out that your husband isn’t who he said he was? What would you do if your husband suddenly goes missing, leaving you a note with “protect her” written on it and nothing else? That is exactly what happens to Hannah when Owen goes missing, and the note could only be referring to Hannah’s stepdaughter, Bailey. Will Hannah be able to protect Bailey while also trying to find out who her husband really is? Bailey wants nothing to do with Hannah, but together they set out to solve this puzzling mystery. This book is full of action, but it is also an incredible family story with a lot of heart. I love the characters in this fantastic summer thriller.

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The Last Thing He Told Me
Laura Dave

From internationally bestselling author Laura Dave comes a riveting new suspense novel about a woman’s search for the truth about her husband’s disappearance—no matter the cost.

We all have stories we never tell.

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dazzling plot twists, and unforgettable characters, The Last Thing He Told Me is bestselling author Laura Dave’s finest novel yet, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn. This propulsive thriller with a heart is for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes.

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The Girl They Left Behind
by Roxanne Veletzos

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger so the girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind.

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The Girl They Left Behind
Roxanne Veletzos

A sweeping historical romance that is “gripping, tragic, yet filled with passion and hope” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author), offering a vivid and unique portrayal of life in war-torn 1941 Bucharest during World War II and its aftermath—perfect for fans of Lilac Girls and Sarah’s Key.

On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger so the girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind.

As a young woman in Soviet Romania, Natalia crosses paths with Victor—an important official in the Communist regime that she used to know as an impoverished young student. Now they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.

When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.

The Girl They Left Behind “is a vividly told, beautifully written, impossible-but-true story” (Helen Bryan, internationally bestselling author of War Brides) that you won’t soon forget.

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Falling
by T. J. Newman

Who doesn’t love the “trolley problem”? If you don’t already know, the “trolley problem” is a philosophical thought experiment. It basically posits that you’re a trolley driver who has lost control of the trolley’s brakes, and you can choose to continue your course and hit multiple people stuck on the track or change tracks and hit only one person. In T.J. Newman’s FALLING, swap out the trolley for an airplane, and the lives at stake are all the passengers on one side, and the pilot’s family on the other. Who will pilot Bill Hoffman choose to save? This book is definitely one to pick up if you plan to stay grounded for a while.

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Falling
T. J. Newman

“Stunning and relentless. This is Jaws at 35,000 feet.” —Don Winslow
Falling is the best kind of thriller…Nonstop, totally authentic suspense.” —James Patterson
“Amazing...Intense suspense, shocks and scares...Chilling.” —Lee Child
“The perfect summer thriller. Relentlessly paced and unforgettable.” —Janet Evanovich

You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

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