by Helen Phillips
When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows. But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement. Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty.
Genre: Psychological Thriller; Literary Fiction; Sci-fi
Similar: The Cabin at the End of the World (Paul Tremblay)
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me
written & illustrated by Ellen Forney
Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity. Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose.
Genre: Graphic novels; Memoir
Similar: Rock Steady: Brilliant Advice from my Bipolar Life (Ellen Forney)
by Abi Maxwell
Henrietta and Jane are fifteen and twelve, growing up in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Their mother is a painter, lost in her art, their father a cook who's raised them on magical tales about their land. When Henrietta becomes obsessed with a boy from town, Jane takes to trailing the young couple, spying on their trysts--until one night, Henrietta vanishes into the woods. Elspeth and Claire are sisters separated by an ocean--Elspeth's pregnancy at seventeen meant she was quickly married and sent to America to avoid certain shame. But when she begins ingratiating herself to the town's wealthy mill owner, a series of wrenching and violent events unfold, culminating in her disappearance. A transporting, layered tale of two women, living generations apart yet connected by place and longing, and condemned for the very same desires.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Coming-of-age stories
Similar: The Silver Star (Jeannette Walls)
Rules for Visiting
by Jessica Francis Kane
At forty, May Attaway is more at home with plants than people. Over the years, she's turned inward, finding pleasure in language, her work as a gardener, and keeping her neighbors at arm's length while keenly observing them. But when she is unexpectedly granted some leave from her job, May is inspired to reconnect with four once close friends. She knows they will never have a proper reunion, so she goes, one-by-one, to each of them. A student of the classics, May considers her journey a female Odyssey. What might the world have had if, instead of waiting, Penelope had set out on an adventure of her own?
Genre: Literary Fiction
Similar: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)
by Max Porter
A wood spirit known as Papa Toothwort hovers over a village outside of London, surveying the passing scene while snatches of conversation swirl around him. Observing everything with folksy humor, he takes particular interest in Lanny, a curious young boy who lives with his mother, a former actress now at home writing thrillers, and his Dad, who works as an asset manager in the city. To encourage Lanny 's creative bent, Mum arranges lessons for him with their neighbor, "Mad Pete," whose glory days as an avant-garde artist are mostly in the past and who's viewed as dodgy by his fellow villagers. The unlikely friendship that blossoms between the old eccentric and the young boy troubles the nosy neighbors. So when tragedy strikes, it comes as no surprise that Pete is first to fall under suspicion. However, it isn't long before Lanny 's parents, village outsiders, are also considered suspect.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Similar: The Painted Drum (Louise Erdrich)
by Ted Chiang
In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth—What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?—and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.
Genre: Sci-fi-; Short Stories
Similar: 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories (edited by Isaac Asimov and others)
Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind
by David Quammen
For millennia, lions, tigers, and their man-eating kin have kept our dark, scary forests dark and scary, and their predatory majesty has been the stuff of folklore. But by the year 2150 big predators may only exist on the other side of glass barriers and chain-link fences. Their gradual disappearance is changing the very nature of our existence. Casting his expert eye over the rapidly diminishing areas of wilderness where predators still reign, Quammen examines the fate of lions in India's Gir forest, of saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia, of brown bears in the mountains of Romania, and of Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East.
Genre: Nonfiction; Nature Writing
Similar: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Elizabeth Kolbert)
by Sarah Moss
In the north of England, far from the intrusions of cities but not far from civilization, Silvie and her family are living as if they are ancient Britons, surviving by the tools and knowledge of the Iron Age. For two weeks they join an anthropology course set to reenact life in simpler times. The students are fulfilling their coursework; Silvie's father is fulfilling his lifelong obsession. He has raised her on stories of early man, taken her to witness rare artifacts, recounted time and again their rituals and beliefs—particularly their sacrifices to the bog. Silvie begins to see, hear, and imagine another kind of life, one that might include going to university, traveling beyond England, choosing her own clothes and food, speaking her mind. The ancient Britons built ghost walls to ward off enemy invaders, rude barricades of stakes topped with ancestral skulls. When the group builds one of their own, they find a spiritual connection to the past. What comes next but human sacrifice?
Genre: Literary; Coming-of-age stories
Similar: The Round House (Louise Erdrich)
The Boy at the Keyhole
by Stephen Giles
Nine-year-old Samuel lives alone in a once great estate in Surrey with the family’s housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother has been abroad for five months, purportedly tending to her late husband’s faltering business. She left in a hurry one night while Samuel was sleeping and did not say goodbye. Beyond her sporadic postcards, Samuel hears nothing from his mother. He misses her dearly and maps her journey in an atlas he finds in her study. Samuel’s life is otherwise regulated by Ruth, who runs the house with an iron fist. Only she and Samuel know how brutally she enforces order. As rumors in town begin to swirl, Samuel wonders whether something more sinister is afoot. Perhaps his mother did not leave, but was murdered—by Ruth.
Genre: Psychology Thriller; Mystery; Gothic
Similar: The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
written and illustrated by Pénélope Bagieu
Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. Against overwhelming adversity, these remarkable women raised their voices and changed history. With her one-of-a-kind wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world-famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.
Genre: Graphic Novels; Biographies
Similar: Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story (Peter Bagge)
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew.
Genre: General Fiction; Books about books
Similar: How to Find Love in a Bookshop (Veronica Henry)
How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment - the Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life
by Sophie Hannah
Secretly, we all hold grudges, but most of us probably think we shouldn’t, and many of us deny that we do. To bear a grudge is too negative, right? Shouldn’t we just forgive and move on? Wrong, says self-appointed grudge guru Sophie Hannah, in her groundbreaking and irreverent self-help guide. Yes, it’s essential to think positively if we want to live happy lives, but even more crucial is how we get to the positive. Denying our negative emotions and experiences is likely to lead only to more pain, conflict, and stress. What if our grudges are good for us?
Genre: How Good Do We Have to Be? (Harold S. Kushner)
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing.
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Similar: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
by E. R. Ramzipoor
Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers. Aubrion’s unbridled creativity and linguistic genius attract the attention of August Wolff, a high-ranking Nazi official tasked with swaying public opinion against the Allies. Wolff captures Aubrion and his comrades and gives them an impossible choice: use the newspaper to paint the Allies as monsters, or be killed. Faced with no decision at all, Aubrion has a brilliant idea: they will pretend to do the Nazis’ bidding, but instead they will publish a fake edition of Le Soir that pokes fun at Hitler and Stalin—giving power back to the Belgians by daring to laugh in the face of their oppressors. The ventriloquists have agreed to die for a joke, and they have only eighteen days to tell it.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Similar: The Glass Room (Simon Mawer)
We Went to the Woods
by Caite Dolan-Leach
Certain that society is on the verge of economic and environmental collapse, five disillusioned twenty-somethings make a bold decision: They gather in upstate New York to transform an abandoned farm, once the site of a turn-of-the-century socialist commune, into an idyllic self-sustaining compound called the Homestead. Initially exhilarated by restoring the rustic dwellings, planting a garden, and learning the secrets of fermentation, the group is soon divided by slights, intense romantic and sexual relationships, jealousies, and suspicions. And as winter settles in, their experiment begins to feel not only misguided, but deeply isolating and dangerous.
Similar: Drop City (T. C. Boyle)
by Kenneth Oppel
For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered. All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?
Genre: Horror; Middle-grade
Similar: The Night Gardener (Jonathan Auxier)
by Margaret Atwood
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades. When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her--freedom, prison or death. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.
Genre: Literary; Dystopian Fiction
Similar: Read The Handmaid's Tale first!
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Isolated in a remote mansion in a central European forest, Laura longs for companionship – until a carriage accident brings another young woman into her life: the secretive and sometimes erratic Carmilla. As Carmilla’s actions become more puzzling and volatile, Laura develops bizarre symptoms, and as her health goes into decline, Laura and her father discover something monstrous.
Similar: Dracula (Bram Stoker)
by Sadie Jones
Bea and Dan, recently married, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic. When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping. Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its heart, and then its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Mystery
Similar: House of Sand and Fog (Andre Dubus)
At the End of the Century
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Nobody has written so powerfully of the relationship between and within India and the Western middle classes than Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. In this selection of stories, chosen by her surviving family, her ability to tenderly and humorously view the situations faced by three (sometimes interacting) cultures—European, post-Independence Indian, and American—is never more acute. The profound inner experience of both men and women is at the center of Jhabvala’s writing: she rivals Jane Austen with her impeccable powers of observation. With an introduction by her friend, the writer Anita Desai, At the End of the Century celebrates a writer’s astonishing lifetime gift for language, and leaves us with no doubt of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s unique place in modern literature.
Genre: Short Stories; Literary Fiction
Similar: Olive Kitteridge (Elizabeth Strout)
Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama
by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf.
Genre: Graphic Novel; Memoir
Similar: Fun Home (Alison Bechdel)
Queer: A Graphic History
by Meg-John Barker
illustrated by Julia Scheele
Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged. Presented in a brilliantly engaging and witty style, this is a unique portrait of the universe of queer thinking.
Genre: Graphic Novel; Nonfiction
Similar: Gender: Your Guide (Lee Airton)
Best Perennials for Sun and Shade
Choosing perennials for a garden can be a daunting task, considering that there are thousands of choices. To make the selection easier, this guide profiles the easiest-to-grow and best-performing perennials for both sunny and shady locations. Each plant is shown in a beautiful color photo for easy identification. The photo is accompanied by information on where and how to grow the featured plant, along with horticultural tips to assist in making the perennial-gardening adventure an enjoyable endeavor. From controlling pesky bugs and deadheading to staking tall plants and taking root cuttings, everything a beginning gardener or new homeowner needs to start a garden is here.
Genre: Nonfiction; Gardening
Similar: The Best Plants for New Hampshire Gardens and Landscapes (Edited by Andi Axman)
by Karen Russell
Karen Russell's comedic genius and mesmerizing talent for creating outlandish predicaments that uncannily mirror our inner in lives is on full display in these eight exuberant, arrestingly vivid, unforgettable stories. The landscape in which these stories unfold is a feral, slippery, purgatorial space, bracketed by the void--yet within it Russell captures the exquisite beauty and tenderness of ordinary life.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Short Stories
Similar: Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Karen Russell)
by Xuan Juliana Wang
In twelve stunning stories of love, family, and identity, Xuan Juliana Wang’s debut collection captures the unheard voices of an emerging generation. Young, reckless, and catapulted toward uncertain futures, here is the new face of Chinese youth on a quest for every kind of freedom. From a crowded apartment on Mott Street, where an immigrant family raises its first real Americans, to a pair of divers at the Beijing Olympics poised at the edge of success and self-discovery, Wang’s unforgettable characters – with their unusual careers, unconventional sex lives and fantastical technologies – share the bold hope that, no matter where they’ve come from, their lives too can be extraordinary.
Genre: Short Stories; Literary Fiction
Similar: The Thing Around Your Neck (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
by Jennifer McMahon
In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home--wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks--she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie's descendants, three generations of "Breckenridge women," each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.
Genre: Horror; Thriller
Similar: The Last House Guest (Megan Miranda)
Breaking Cat News
by Georgia Dunn
This just in: Three adorable house cats are reporting the most hilarious breaking news! Based on author/illustrator Georgia Dunn’s real life pets, Elvis, Lupin, and Puck strap on neckties and pick up microphones to provide the most up-to-date relevant news stories (at least according to them). Together they break headlines on the food bowl, new plants, mysterious red dots, strange cats in the yard, and all the daily happenings in their home.
Genre: Graphic Novel; Humor
Similar: Chi's Sweet Home (Konami Kanata)