It’s the last day of July and you know what that means! The results for most popular books are officially in, and let’s just say there’s a little something for everyone—not unlike the film box office this month. Whether you chose to see Barbie, Oppenheimer, or a double feature, we bet you’ll find some books to fit your summer aesthetic. Read on to see what your fellow readers are loving!
I wasn’t exactly surprised to be swept away by this book—I go into any psychological thriller well-prepared with a full day of no plans, but I wasn’t quite expecting that my love for the main character would be what propelled me through this one. Sally Diamond is different from others. She keeps to herself and has trouble relating to people. And for most of her life (she’s in her early-forties now) she’s been happy to live an isolated life with her adoptive father, a psychiatrist. But then, when her dad dies from an illness—and Sally takes his oft-repeated joke literally and throws his body out with the trash—it starts a spiraling chain of events. A police investigation ensues, and a media frenzy, and that leads the world (and Sally herself) to find out about her tragic and traumatic past. A past that Sally doesn’t remember, and which her adoptive parents kept hidden from her and the world to protect her. Now that everyone knows, she encounters odd strangers, mysterious packages, a new therapist, and far too much attention from people who had always previously avoided her in town. I loved seeing how Sally wonderfully (and peculiarly) handled every new situation—and it kept me turning the pages long into the night.
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The internationally bestselling author of the “dark, captivating psychological thriller” (People) Lying in Wait returns with a wickedly dark, twisted, and brilliantly observed new novel about an enigmatic woman confronting her unknown past.
Reclusive Sally Diamond causes outrage by trying to incinerate her dead father. Now she’s the center of attention, not only from the hungry media and police detectives, but also a sinister voice from a past she does not remember. As she begins to discover the horrors of her early childhood, Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, big decisions, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say.
But who is the man observing Sally from the other side of the world, and why does he call her Mary? And why does her new neighbor seem to be obsessed with her? Sally’s trust issues are about to be severely challenged…
“What if a book, written from an imagined childhood story, could unlock mysteries of the past and reunite lost loved ones? That's precisely what happens in THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA, and Henry unfolds it with expert storytelling. This is a beautiful tale of the powers of stories and love. I loved how this book highlights the use of stories to provide comfort in chaos and create bonds that transcend distance and time. I fell deeply in love with Whisperwood and the characters of this lovely novel. This book is one that, upon finishing it, you close it gently, hold it close to your heart, wipe your tears, and smile before you set it down.” —Jess Depew, The Snail Readers Circle, The Snail on the Wall
When a woman stumbles across a mysterious children’s book, long-held secrets about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World War II are revealed in this “transporting, heartfelt, and atmospheric” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author) novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
1939: Fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora evacuate their London home for a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the Aberdeen family in a charming stone cottage, Hazel distracts her young sister with a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own: Whisperwood.
But the unthinkable happens when Flora suddenly vanishes after playing near the banks of the River Thames. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, carrying the guilt into adulthood.
Twenty years later, Hazel is back in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore for a career at Sotheby’s. With a cherished boyfriend and an upcoming Paris getaway, Hazel’s future seems set. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing a picture book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the storybook world she created just for Flora. Could this book hold the secrets to Flora’s disappearance? Could it be a sign that her beloved sister is still alive after all these years? Or is something sinister at play?
For fans of Kate Morton, Janet Skeslien Charles, and Kristin Hannah, this is a “fantastical” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) celebration of sisterhood and the magic of storytelling wrapped up in a “heartrending, captivating tale of family, first love, and fate” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author).
“Reading RIPE felt like stumbling upon Eden’s forbidden fruit: a key to unlocking language I didn’t have to describe those dark nights of the soul but also the tender moments of love and desire that help us survive them. Sarah Rose Etter brilliantly contrasts the absurdities of modern life with an unsettling element of surrealism—a black hole that stalks our protagonist through her soul-sucking start-up job. The plot cuts like a knife through the protective exocarp of a pomegranate to its bloody center, from the ergosphere surrounding a black hole over its event horizon, hurtling you toward the mysterious singularity at its center. When you make it there and back (a guarantee fiction offers us that deep space cannot), don’t be surprised if life feels a little different, here on the other side of RIPE.” —Emily P., Assistant Editor, on Ripe
From an award-winning writer whose work Roxane Gay calls “utterly unique and remarkable” comes a surreal novel about a woman in Silicon Valley who must decide how much she’s willing to give up for success—for fans of My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Her Body and Other Parties.
A year into her dream job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley start-up, Cassie finds herself trapped in a corporate nightmare. Between the long hours, toxic bosses, and unethical projects, she also struggles to reconcile the glittering promise of a city where obscene wealth lives alongside abject poverty and suffering. Ivy League grads complain about the snack selection from a conference room with a view of houseless people bathing in the bay. Start-up burnouts leap into the paths of commuter trains, and men literally set themselves on fire in the streets.
Though isolated, Cassie is never alone. From her earliest memory, a miniature black hole has been her constant companion. It feeds on her depression and anxiety, growing or shrinking in relation to her distress. The black hole watches, but it also waits. Its relentless pull draws Cassie ever closer as the world around her unravels.
When her CEO’s demands cross an illegal threshold and she ends up unexpectedly pregnant, Cassie must decide whether the tempting fruits of Silicon Valley are really worth it. Sharp but vulnerable, funny yet unsettling, Ripe portrays one millennial woman’s journey through our late-capitalist hellscape and offers a brilliantly incisive look at the absurdities of modern life.
I have TikTok to thank for this bingeable read! After coming across this video on my TikTok feed, I was immediately inspired to pull the novel off my shelf and begin reading it. Little did I know how much I was going to fly through the pages. In 1970s Brooklyn, we follow August as she comes of age in Bushwick, alongside her three best friends: Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi. The neighborhood’s energy and the bond between the four girls is palpable as they navigate childhood with mothers absent or dead. Weaving between then and now (twenty years later), the story explores family and how hauntingly pivotal experiences from the past affect the present. Jacqueline Woodson’s writing is mesmerizing, making it all the more difficult to put the book down.
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Against her expectations of spending the summer working with renowned artwork in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ann is instead assigned to a Gothic museum where she stumbles into a deep exploration of the secrets surrounding Renaissance occultism, eerie divination, and historical tragedies. Perfectly capturing the dark-academia aesthetic, Ann’s summer is anything but ordinary as she learns about the oddities of the world around her and must contemplate all that she thinks she knows about rationality when the words of fortune tellers, tarot card readers, and predictive oracles all suggest a dire future ahead.
A Today Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
This instant New York Times bestseller that is “captivating in every sense of the word” (Sarah Pearse, New York Times bestselling author) follows a group of researchers uncovering a mysterious deck of tarot cards and shocking secrets in New York’s famed Met Cloisters.
When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination.
Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when she discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.
A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a “masterwork of literary suspense that surges to an otherworldly conclusion” (Mark Prins, author of The Latinist).
“HIS FAVORITES is exactly the book for our times. That Kate Walbert has managed to write a novel that is riveting, terrifying, and yet always charmingly buoyant, speaks volumes to how well she understands women. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going on, how these things happen, read this book.”—Ann Patchett
“I would wholeheartedly recommend CROW MARY to all readers of historical fiction. The author has done intensive research and created an unforgettable story using the facts available about Crow Mary’s life. It brought to light a whole era of history in 1872 Montana when Crow Mary married a white fur trader and was incredibly brave as she moved away from her people and forged a life with her husband. She rescues five Nakoda women who were being attacked by drunken traders. The book was endorsed by Crow Mary’s great granddaughter and other students of the time. The characters are so well developed that they will remain with you for years to come. Another outstanding novel from Kathleen Grissom.” —Sarajane Giddings, Blue Door Books
The New York Times bestselling author of the “touching” (The Boston Globe) book club classics The Kitchen House and the “emotionally rewarding” (Booklist) Glory Over Everything returns with a sweeping saga inspired by the true story of Crow Mary—an indigenous woman torn between two worlds in 19th-century North America.
In 1872, sixteen-year-old Goes First, a Crow Native woman, marries Abe Farwell, a white fur trader. He gives her the name Mary, and they set off on the long trip to his trading post in the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan, Canada. Along the way, she finds a fast friend in a Métis named Jeannie; makes a lifelong enemy in a wolfer named Stiller; and despite learning a dark secret of Farwell’s past, falls in love with her husband.
The winter trading season passes peacefully. Then, on the eve of their return to Montana, a group of drunken whiskey traders slaughters forty Nakota—despite Farwell’s efforts to stop them. Mary, hiding from the hail of bullets, sees the murderers, including Stiller, take five Nakota women back to their fort. She begs Farwell to save them, and when he refuses, Mary takes two guns, creeps into the fort, and saves the women from certain death. Thus, she sets off a whirlwind of colliding cultures that brings out the worst and best in the cast of unforgettable characters and pushes the love between Farwell and Crow Mary to the breaking point.
From an author with a “stirring and uplifting” (David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author) voice, Crow Mary sweeps across decades and the landscape of the upper West and Canada, showcasing the beauty of the natural world, while at the same time probing the intimacies of a marriage and one woman’s heart.
HAROLD by legendary stand-up comedian Steven Wright is a delightfully amusing and profound journey into the mind of an average third grader as he navigates a single day at school in the 1960s. The story encapsulates the whimsical and often hilarious imaginings of Harold, from having coffee on the moon with Carl Sagan, to contemplating the birth of his future hearse driver. Readers will chuckle, ponder, and find themselves lost in Wright's uniquely surreal and vivid world. Heartfelt and hilarious, this book is filled with laughter, absurdity, and unexpected wisdom. It might just alter your daily perceptions in the most entertaining way.
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A uniquely humorous and deeply profound novel from a legendary stand-up comedian that follows the thoughts of a 1960s third grader during a single day at school.
Steven Wright is one of the most significant and influential stand-up comedians in history. Rolling Stone ranked him fifteenth on their “50 Best Stand-ups of All Time” list, while the New York Times has written of his enduring legacy: “If you made a family tree of modern stand-up, he would top one of the few major and expanding branches. The children of Mr. Wright pack the comedy scene today.” Now comes his first novel, which is sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever read.
From the outside, Harold is an average seven-year-old third grader growing up in the 1960s. Bored by school. Crushing on a girl. Likes movies and baseball—especially the hometown Boston Red Sox. Enjoys spending time with his grandfather. But inside Harold’s mind, things are a lot more complex and unusual. His thoughts come to him as birds flying through a small rectangle in the middle of his brain. He visits an outdoor cafe on the moon and is invited aboard a spaceship by famed astronomer Carl Sagan. He envisions his own funeral procession and wonders if the driver of the hearse has even been born yet.
Harold documents the meandering, surreal, often hilarious, and always thought-provoking stream-of-consciousness ruminations of the title character during a single day in class. Saturated with the witticisms and profundities for which Wright’s groundbreaking stand-up has long been venerated, this novel will change the way you perceive your daily existence. To quote one of its many memorable lines: “Everything doesn’t have to make sense. Just look at the world and your life.”
A lifelong friendship and generations-old coastal property are both at stake in Alice Elliott Dark’s riveting novel. Agnes, a children’s book author and pseudonymous satirist, is worried about the fate of Fellowship Point. This is the magnificent stretch of Maine peninsula that she and her people-pleasing best friend, Polly, own through their intertwined Quaker lineage. But the two women, who have been inseparable for almost eighty years, reach an impasse over what should be done with the land after both of them are dead and gone. The headstrong Agnes wants to donate the property to a trust. But Polly, a devoted wife and indulgent mother of three, isn’t willing to upend an ancient agreement—especially if it will displease her family. FELLOWSHIP POINT will move you, maybe even to tears, but it will also push you to think about the life you want to lead and, most important, the people you want to spend that life with.
THE PERFECT GIFT FOR MOTHER’S DAY!
“A magnificent storytelling feat” (The Boston Globe) story of lifelong friendship between two very different “superbly depicted” (The Wall Street Journal) women with shared histories, divisive loyalties, hidden sorrows, and eighty years of summers on a pristine point of land on the coast of Maine, set across the arc of the 20th century.
Celebrated children’s book author Agnes Lee is determined to secure her legacy—to complete what she knows will be the final volume of her pseudonymously written Franklin Square novels; and even more consuming, to permanently protect the peninsula of majestic coast in Maine known as Fellowship Point. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. And one of those shareholders is her best friend, Polly.
Polly Wister has led a different kind of life than Agnes: that of a well-off married woman with children, defined by her devotion to her husband, a philosophy professor with an inflated sense of stature. She strives to create beauty and harmony in her home, in her friendships, and in her family. Polly soon finds her loyalties torn between the wishes of her best friend and the wishes of her three sons—but what is it that Polly wants herself?
Agnes’s designs are further muddied when an enterprising young book editor named Maud Silver sets out to convince Agnes to write her memoirs. Agnes’s resistance cannot prevent long-buried memories and secrets from coming to light with far-reaching repercussions for all.
“An ambitious and satisfying tale” (The Washington Post), Fellowship Point reads like a 19th-century epic, but it is entirely contemporary in its “reflections on aging, writing, stewardship, legacies, independence, and responsibility. At its heart, Fellowship Point is about caring for the places and people we love...This magnificent novel affirms that change and growth are possible at any age” (The Christian Science Monitor).
A remarkable blend of heartache, humor, mystery, and hope, REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES is a tale of an unexpected friendship between a grieving widow, Tova Sullivan, who works nights at the aquarium, and a perceptive octopus, Marcellus. Van Pelt's deft storytelling skill brought to life the rich emotions in every interaction, tugging at my heartstrings, and keeping me on edge. It's a read that reaches into your soul and compels you to turn page after page, unable to stop until you've absorbed every last word of this stunning narrative.
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