H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald
When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.
Genre: Memoir; Nature Writing; Books About Books
Similar: Peregrine Spring (Nancy Cowan)
My Absolute Darling
by Gabriel Tallent
Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption.
Readers beware: this book includes graphic depictions of abuse including sexual assault and incest.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Coming of Age Stories
Similar: Winter's Bone (Daniel Woodrell)
Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Genre: Poetry; Memoir
Also by Jacqueline Woodson: Another Brooklyn
Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!
by Mariko Tamaki
Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley—love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries.
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Similar: Check out the Lumberjane graphic novels by Noelle Stevenson
by Aziz Ansari
The ever hip and funny comedian and Parks and Recreation star embarks on a surprisingly insightful exploration of the complex realities of dating today. Long before Ansari was born to his Tamil parents, people got together and married the least offensive prospect in the neighborhood. Sometimes, they looked no further than their own apartment building. Over time, and if they were lucky, they managed to form an enduring bond that grew into something a lot like love. It was crazy by today's contemporary Western standards, but Ansari's incredulousness with this anachronistic state of affairs is tempered with such a high level of earnest intelligence and compassion that he immediately establishes himself as a serious investigator. Ansari narrates the audiobook, which is laugh-out-loud funny (and available from Overdrive).
Genre: Non-fiction; Society and Culture; Humor
Similar: Dataclysm (Christian Rudder)
Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed repeatedly, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer. Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again...
This classic mystery is always worth a read (or re-read), and with a new film adaptation coming out in November, now is the perfect time!
Similar: Night Over Water (Ken Follett)
by Carolyn Parkhurst
The Hammond family is living in DC, where everything seems to be going just fine, until it becomes clear that the oldest daughter, Tilly, is developing abnormally. Once Tilly is kicked out of the last school in the area, her mother Alexandra is out of ideas. The family turns to Camp Harmony in New Hampshire and the wisdom of child behavior guru Scott Bean for a solution. But what they discover in the woods of New Hampshire will push them to the very limit. This is a unputdownable story about the strength of love, the bonds of family, and how you survive the unthinkable.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction; Domestic Fiction
Also by Carolyn Parkhurst: The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found
by Dorah Blume
In 1477, Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli never thought his life was going to be easy after being fired by his prestigious patron and friend Lorenzo de' Medici. His creative well runs dry until the day he sees Floriana, a Jewish weaver imprisoned in his sister's convent. So begins a tale of one of the world's most beloved paintings, La Primavera, as Sandro, a confirmed bachelor, and Floriana, a headstrong artist in her own right, enter into the most turbulent of relationships.
Genre: Historical Fiction
by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan... But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Similar: Carry On (Rainbow Rowell)
History of Wolves
by Emily Fridlund
Fourteen-year-old Madeline lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Madeline finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose but with this new sense of belonging she is also drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand. Over the course of a few days, Madeline makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. Recently short-litsed for the Man Booker Prize.
Genre: Literary Fiction; Psychological Fiction; Coming-of-age Stories
Similar: Once Upon a River (Bonnie Jo Campbell)
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
by Angela Duckworth
In this must-read book for anyone striving to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, athletes, students, and business people-both seasoned and new-that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called “grit.” Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, MacArthur “genius” Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that-not talent or luck-makes all the difference.
Genre: Non-fiction; Society and Culture
Similar: David and Goliath (Malcolm Gladwell)
To the Bright Edge of the World
by Eowyn Ivey
Ivey portrays a fictional 1885 expedition, led by Colonel Allen Forrester of the U.S. Army, into the newly acquired Alaska Territory to map the area’s rivers and gather information about the Native populations. By means of the colonel’s journal entries and letters between him and his wife, Sophie, who remains at the Vancouver barracks, Ivey deftly draws the reader into the perils of the journey. Forrester is accompanied by only two other officers and a few Indian guides they enlist en route; their goal as they embark in February 1885 is to return to Vancouver before the next winter. Forrester describes the challenges he faces, in a late-nineteenth-century style Ivey captures perfectly, including traveling on rivers of ice, dodging huge ice boulders loosened by the spring thaw, re-routing around narrow canyons, and suffering near-starvation and gut-wrenching illnesses. Sophie is a strong character as well; a feminist who chafes at the social restrictions of the barracks, she teaches herself photography in her husband’s absence. Ivey presents a compelling historical saga of survival. - Deborah Donovan for Booklist
Genre: Historical Fiction; Magical Realism
Similar: San Miguel (T.C. Boyle)
Quiet Until the Thaw
by Alexandra Fuller
Lakota Oglala Sioux Nation, South Dakota. Two Native American cousins, Rick Overlooking Horse and You Choose Watson, though bound by blood and by land, find themselves at odds as they grapple with the implications of their shared heritage. When escalating anger towards the injustices, historical and current, inflicted upon the Lakota people by the federal government leads to tribal divisions and infighting, the cousins go in separate directions: Rick chooses the path of peace; You Choose, violence.
Genre: Historical Fiction; Literary Fiction; Western
Similar: LaRose (Louise Erdrich)
American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes
Edited by Molly O'Neill
This exhaustive collection of essays, anecdotes and recipes spans three centuries of American food writing, from Meriwether Lewis's account of killing “two bucks and two buffaloe” during his famous trek across the continent, to Michael Pollan's up-to-the-minute account of the politics of organic food. In between are countless gems. Ably organized and edited, this collection features numerous accounts of foodways long since vanished in this country. Famous food writers are well represented here, but perhaps even more rewarding are the wonderful but lesser-known players on the American food scene; either Elizabeth Robins Pennell's discussion of the spring chicken or Eugene Walter's tale of gumbo alone would make this volume a treasure. - Publishers Weekly review
Genre: Non-fiction; Food Writing; Cookbooks
Similar: The Cooking Gene (Michael Twitty)
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks
by Annie Spence
A Gen-X librarian's snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations.
Genre: Non-fiction; Memoir; Books About Books
Similar: My Life with Bob (Pamela Paul)
by Francis Spufford
In 1746, a man named Smith arrives in New York City, population 7,000, in his hand, a bill for 1,000 pounds payable in New York. No one can vouch for him, and he won't explain why he needs so much money. Why should New Yorkers trust him? Smith is forced to wait 60 days for the arrival of a ship from London to verify the transfer. Thus starts this wild adventure, in the rarest of commodities, the modern-day picaresque novel: the trickster or innocent wandering through the world, digging beneath convention to unearth hidden truths about how we behave toward one another. - David Keymer for Library Journal
Genre: Historical Fiction
Similar: A Star Called Henry (Roddy Doyle)
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two very different worlds: one is her home in a poor black urban neighborhood; the other is the tony suburban prep school she attends and the white boy she dates there. Her bifurcated life changes dramatically when she is the only witness to the unprovoked police shooting of her unarmed friend Khalil. As the case becomes national news, violence erupts in her neighborhood, and Starr finds herself and her family caught in the middle. Beautifully written in Starr’s authentic first-person voice, this is an important book that demands the widest possible readership. - Michael Cart for Booklist
Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary Fiction; Realistic Fiction
Similar: All American Boys (Jason Reynolds)
by Libba Bray
After humiliating her parents with her unrestrained behavior at a party, privileged young Evie O'Neill is sent to live with her eccentric uncle in New York City - a "punishment" that utterly delights Evie, who can't wait to mix with Ziegfield girls and sneak into some big-city speakeasies (it's the Roaring Twenties). But when her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, is called on to help solve a rash of bizarre, other-worldly murders, Evie is drawn in to the investigations because of a special ability she's tried to keep secret. Check out the audiobooks narrated by January LaVoy, including number two in the series, Lair of Dreams. The third book in the series, Before the Devil Breaks You, is due out on October 3, 2017.
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction; Fantasy/Paranormal
Similar: The Name of the Star (Maureen Johnson)
by Vimala McClure
In this completely updated version of her renowned classic, Vimala McClure, founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, and its premier proponent in the United States, helps you master the techniques of infant massage so you can incorporate this joyful and wonderful healing art into your baby's life. She shows you why a daily massage can be one of the greatest gifts you give your child... and yourself.
Genre: Family; Parenting; Nonfiction
Llama Llama Gives Thanks (Board Book)
by Anna Dewdney
It's Thanksgiving time for Llama Llama and his family! That means yummy foods and autumn leaves and being thankful for everything from pumpkin pies to blue skies. Thanksgiving may only come once year, but in Llama's family, giving thanks is always here!
Similar: Llama Llama Misses Mama (Anna Dewdney)
Secrets in Summer
by Nancy Thayer
After her marriage ends in an ugly divorce, librarian Darcy Cotterill retreats to her late grandmother’s home on Nantucket, settling into a routine as a year-round resident. She rebuilds her life with new friends, a great job, and a boyfriend, but her past comes back to haunt her when her ex-husband rents a nearby house for the summer. Their homes are separated by a hedge, allowing Darcy to hear the goings-on in her ex’s yard—including an encounter between his stepdaughter Willow and a local bad boy. Darcy steps in, and she soon finds that she and Willow are kindred spirits. Together with Mimi, an elderly neighbor with a wicked sense of humor, and Susan, the woman next door whose marriage seems to be falling apart, the women spend a memorable summer forgiving the people who have wronged them and celebrating the power of friendship. - Nanette Donahue for Booklist
Genre: Contemporary Fiction; Romance; Women's Live and Relationships
Similar: The Things We Do For Love (Kristin Hannah)
by Hervé Tullet
Make some noise! Shout "OH!" Whisper "oh!" Say "Zoop"? Yes! "Zoop!" "Zoop!" "Zoop!" The newest book from Hervé Tullet magically responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page's reaction. Tullet's books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions.
Similar: Press Here (Hervé Tullet)
Put 'em Up!
by Sherri Brooks Vinton
With simple step-by-step instructions and 175 delicious recipes, this book will have even the timidest beginners filling pantries and freezers in no time! Put ’em Up! includes complete how-to information for every kind of preserving: refrigerating, freezing, air- and oven-drying, cold- and hot-pack canning, and pickling. Sherri Brooks Vinton includes recipes that range from the contemporary and daring — Wasabi Beans and Salsa Verde — to the very best versions of tried-and-true favorites, including Classic Crock Pickles and Orange Marmalade. - Goodreads review
Genre: Nonfiction; Cookbooks; Reference
Similar: Homegrown Pantry (Barbara Pleasant)
The Wendy Project
by Melissa Jane Osborne and Veronic Flush
16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy — a once rational teenager – shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is The Wendy Project merely her safe space, or a portal between worlds? - Goodreads
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy; Graphic Novel
Similar: Snow White: A Graphic Novel (Matt Phelan)