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Summer Reading 2021 Hardback Fiction

See the full list of great reading recommendations for Summer 2021 here.

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

It’s been a while since I’ve committed to a book this size, but Great Circle was compelling and absorbing enough to keep me turning the pages. The story moves from the last century to this one, tracing the life of stunt-loving, fiercely independent aviatrix Marian Graves as it affects the career of the claustrophobic, headstrong woman set to play her in a Hollywood biopic. With its complexity and range, atmosphere and characters, the book is one you will want to get lost in. — Chorel

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Great Circle: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525656975
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 4th, 2021

Monkey Boy by Francisco Goldman

In Goldman’s latest autobiographical novel, his protagonist Francisco Goldberg returns to Boston to visit his aging mother and a high school girlfriend. Within these five days is a deft yet delightful exploration of self, from his bullied childhood to his time as a reporter, his family’s troubled history and his own biracial identity as American and Guatemalan. Through it all, Goldman maintains such a light and intimate touch that one feels privileged just to be in the conversation. — Melinda

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Monkey Boy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802157676
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - May 3rd, 2021

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Rachel Cusk’s new novel, Second Place, follows the expectations and consequences of a woman’s decision to invite a prominent artist to her family’s remote marshland farm. Cusk’s protagonist is full of dissatisfaction and a longing to find meaning in others’ art. When the artist arrives with an unexpected guest, the disquieting gap between reality and expectation sends ripples through everyone’s life. Laced with reflections on art, truth, and identity, this stirring and contemplative novel left me reflecting on myself and the world, long after the last page. — Brooks

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Second Place: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374279226
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 4th, 2021

First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami

Over the past several decades, Murakami has made an indelible mark on world literature by seamlessly blending the mundane with the surreal. Here, in a new collection of stories, Murakami broadens his already expansive territory as he follows characters who find themselves compelled by forces they don’t understand. A man in a sauna at a remote hotel is asked by a monkey if he’d like his back scrubbed. A music fan has a dream in which Charlie Parker offers his thoughts on the meaningless- ness of death. This collection is a mind-bending pleasure. — Rico

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First Person Singular: Stories Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780593318072
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 6th, 2021

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Greenidge’s powerful new novel considers post- Reconstruction life for Black women as they struggle with issues of race, colorism, misogyny, and the meaning of freedom. Libertie is the daughter of one of the first female Black doctors in New York and is struggling between the expectations thrust upon her by her mother, her schoolmates who came to freedom from many directions, and her Haitian husband whose ideals about equality don’t live up to the reality of their life together. The novel’s depth of these still-relevant topics is matched only by its poetic prose. A beautiful addition to literature’s historical record. — Casey

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Libertie: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616207014
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - March 30th, 2021

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

I laughed out loud throughout this insightful, heartwarming coming-of-age story. Mary Jane is a sheltered 14-year-old girl living in 1975 suburban Baltimore. Her black-and-white life transforms into a riotous rainbow of color during a special summer. She becomes the nanny for 5-year-old Izzy in a family full of love and chaos completely unlike her own. Exposed to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, Mary Jane begins discovering who she wants to be. A great summer read! — Trey

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Mary Jane: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063052291
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Custom House - May 11th, 2021

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

Known for her mastery of observation, Jhumpa Lahiri centers this novella on the quiet solitude of a middle-aged woman wandering through the streets of an unnamed Italian city. Lahiri’s first work to be translated from Italian by the author herself explores the nexus between solitude and depression, between connection and transformation. A spellbinding glimpse into one woman’s inner reckoning. — Casey

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Whereabouts: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593318317
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 27th, 2021

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

A compelling novel about being Black, a woman, a singer, and a performer in the music industry of the early ’70s. A story about the fallout of becoming a racial lightning rod. Opal and Nev are an unlikely pair, busy creating unexpected music. Opal is always pushing further, creating a provocative, extravagant show. The oral history format provides insightful perspectives through- out this slow-burn read. It’s entertaining and fun but also a serious exploration of issues of race and racism, both then and now. — Trey

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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982140168
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: 37 Ink - March 30th, 2021

Red Island House by Andrea Lee

I first stumbled upon Andrea Lee in 2019 when I read her incredibly haunting short story “The Children” in the New Yorker. When I saw that she had a novel coming out, I scooped it up immediately and was pleased to see that “The Children” was actually the second chapter. The novel tells the story of Shay, a Black woman from the US, who marries an older wealthy man from Italy. When her husband decides to build them a dream house on an idyllic beach on an island near Madagascar, Shay is determined to remain a “tourist” in her new home. But soon she's drawn into the affairs and intrigues of the surrounding community and is forced to confront, in very real ways, issues of heritage and identity, and the colonial legacy of a nearly forgotten corner of the world. — Rico

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Red Island House: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982137809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - March 23rd, 2021

With Teeth by Kristen Arnett

Sammie is a married lesbian with a son she doesn’t understand and a suddenly-middle-aged-feeling life that leaves her desperate to find something more. As her son grows up and her marriage deteriorates, she seeks meaning and human connection. This novel is a captivating story that hasn’t quite been told yet; if the literary canon prized midlife crisis novels about queer women as highly as they do those of cis-het men, With Teeth would win every award. — Jess

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With Teeth: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593191507
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 1st, 2021


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