Summer Read, Watch, & Listen List

We asked our staff to pick two books or films that they recently enjoyed or are looking forward to enjoying this summer. Below is a list of wide ranging recommendations for adults.

Books

American Assassin by Vince Flynn
This is a fast paced book about American operatives in the Middle East and the training of a select few who become American Assassins. A great summer read because the story is intriguing while not being overly complicated. Flynn does a great job of bringing all of the characters to life. For those who like the theme of Read the Book, See the Movie, American Assassin was released by Lionsgate Films in 2017 starring Michael Keaton and Dylan O'Brien. This may be borrowed as a book or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available as an eBook and digital audiobook on OverDrive and Libby. —Tim Baird

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
This Giller Prize winner for best Canadian Novel is a terrific read. Set during the time of Jesuit missionaries sent to the New World to live among the Huron nations, this story transports readers to the heart of the Canadian Wilderness and reveals the struggles, failures, successes, and ever present dangers that the Indian Tribes faced while trying to co-exist with French missionaries. This book may be borrowed from our physical collection, but will also be available soon as an eBook and digital audiobook on OverDrive and Libby. — Tim Baird

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy is the account of Bryan Stevenson's first case, that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. Stevenson was a young, idealistic lawyer whose powerful true story is a testament to the potential for mercy to redeem us, as well as a call to fix the broken American justice system. Just Mercy, the book and movie adaptation, have been chosen by Highlands Middle School staff for the WP Community Summer 2020 Read/Watch Event. Patrons can sign up for the community discussion in September, date and location to be determined. This title may be borrowed as a book, CD audiobook, young adult adaptation, or the film may be borrowed as a DVD or Blu-ray. The eBook and digital audiobook are also available on OverDrive and Libby. — Kristy Bauman

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
From the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me. Hiram Walker, born into bondage, develops strange powers after his mother is sold away. Years later, when Hiram nearly drowns, that same power saves his life. Hiram's brush with death launches him on a quest to escape the only home he's ever known, an adventure that takes him from Virginia’s proud and corrupt plantations to dangerously idealistic movements in the North and beyond. The Water Dancer is among the upcoming titles to be discussed at a future Common Ground meeting through the White Plains Public Library. This title may be borrowed as a book, large print book, or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available as an eBook and digital audiobook on OverDrive and Libby. — Kristy Bauman

In this summer of travel restrictions, 50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley (eBook or physical) by Daniel Chazin gives us options for social distancing and spectacular views in our own backyard and surrounding counties. Hikes are rated easy, moderate, or strenuous, and advice is given on hiking gear and preparedness, e.g., don't forget the insect repellent with DEET! You may not encounter Bigfoot on one of the 50 Hikes, but you definitely will in Max Brook's new novel Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. Residents of an isolated eco-community in the remote wilderness enjoy their smart homes, believing they need nothing but wifi to survive, but when nearby Mount Rainier erupts, cutting them off from civilization and grocery drones, they discover they have no tools, weapons, or food–and they're being stalked by a tribe of large, foul-smelling, violent Yeti…will any of them survive? — Karyn De Luca
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
Add this smart, witty, and engaging novel to your contemporary-issues reading list. Race, class, gender, aging, and feminism are all explored through the lives of 12 Black women in England today. The characters—ranging in age from 18 to 93—are drawn with complexity and compassion. The book may be borrowed from our physical collection. Also available through Overdrive and Libby and Hoopla as an eBook and digital audiobook. — Christiane Deschamps

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
Nunez's books are small, delicate, and packed with wisdom about the human condition. One can't go wrong when a soulful Great Dane is the grief-stricken narrator's companion. The title may be borrowed as a book or large print copy from our physical collection. Also available through Overdrive and Libby as an eBook and digital audiobook. You may want to check out another Nunez novel, Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury (in-Library collection), featuring Leonard and Virginia Woolf's pet of many years. — Christiane Deschamps

You're Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck: The Further Adventures of America's Favorite Outdoorsman by Bill Heavey
Available as an eBook in Hoopla. Available soon as an eBook on OverDrive & Libby.
While I'm as far from an outdoorsman as you can get, I enjoy Heavey's stories, most of which originally appeared in Field & Stream magazine and have been compiled for this book. He communicates the thrill of the hunt even to those uninterested in hunting or fishing. There are non-outdoors essays here as well. He writes wittily on clothes shopping, and movingly about the sudden death of his child. — Austin Duffy

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I am reading this now, a dystopian novel about a Shakespearean troupe and symphony making their way through the Great Lakes region twenty years after a pandemic essentially wiped out civilization. Here is one pertinent sentence: “Jeevan was crushed by a sudden certainty that this was it, that this illness Hua was describing was going to be the divide between a before and an after, a line drawn through his life.” This title may be borrowed as a book, large print copy, or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available as an eBook and digital audiobook in OverDrive and Libby. — Austin Duffy

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Chosen for Oprah’s Book Club in 2018. This is a beautiful novel about an African-American couple Roy and Celestial\ who seem to have it all until one day their lives are torn apart when Roy is wrongly convicted of rape. He is sentenced to 12 years in prison and Celestial must come to grips with the realization that their marriage may not survive. The book is narrated by the characters. Midway through the book it turns into letters written to each other professing their love for one another. Then the letters become tense. You feel for the pain the characters are going through, their heartbreak. This story makes you think deeply about love, marriage, and racial injustice. This title may be borrowed as a book, large print copy, or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available as an eBook and digital audiobook from Hoopla, as well as OverDrive and Libby. — Mariel Perez

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
I’m currently reading Silver Sparrow by the same author, Tayari Jones. A story about an African-American man, James, who is married to two women at the same time and has a daughter by each of them, but only one family knows about the other. The book has received good reviews and so far I'm enjoying it. This title may be borrowed as a book or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available as an eBook and digital audiobook from Hoopla as well as OverDrive and Libby. — Mariel Perez

Shrill by Lindy West
Shrill is a raw and honest portrayal of a woman who writes about taboo topics (body acceptance, female sexuality, reproductive rights, and misogyny). Throughout the book, Lindy’s voice is witty and very human. She is tough, and yet as we read about her life as a comedian and advocate for body acceptance, we also see her vulnerability. She tackles trolls, grief, and bad relationships through a lens that serves as both social commentary and how to be brave. The title may be borrowed as a book or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available on Overdrive and Libby as an eBook and digital audiobook. — Caroline Reddy

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
As a huge fan of The Daily Show, I was happy to see it continue with a new host. One of the reasons that I want to read this book is because I recently saw a video posted by Trever Noah about the social contracts that we all abide by (in regards to looting and protesting during Black Lives Matter). It was in this video that I realized that he had been able to answer some of my own questions about looting which I don’t quite understand. Also, as a biracial immigrant, I am interested in reading about his life in South Africa amidst Apartheid.This title may be borrowed as a book, young readers copy, or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available through OverDrive and Libby as an eBook. — Caroline Reddy

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
Fiona Davis is an author of other books on local historical fiction, The Masterpiece, Chelsea Girls, The Address, The Dollhouse. Of course a librarian wouldn't miss reading about a mystery that takes place at the New York Public Library. This book may be borrowed from our physical collection; copies are on order. The eBook and digital audiobook are also on order and may be placed on hold through OverDrive and Libby. — Sharon Rothman

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian
Taking place in Vietnam and New York over a period of 10 days, a search begins for a biologically engineered pathogen that threatens the population of Manhattan. This twisted mystery/thriller is all the more terrifying due to its coincidentally timely release. This title may be borrowed as a book, large print copy, or CD audiobook from our physical collection, but it is also available as an eBook and digital audiobook on OverDrive and Libby. — Sharon Rothman

Weather by Jenny Offill
An oddly composed novel from the POV of an academic librarian who is also working as a “fake shrink” of sorts, assisting a podcast host in providing advice to her listeners. It is written in fascinating short sections that alternate between conversations with the protagonist's son, a brother who is in recovery, and a reclusive mother, as well as her library interactions, and excerpts from the podcast. The book may be borrowed from our physical collection, but it is also available as an eBook and digital audiobook on OverDrive and Libby. — Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno

Films

The Watermelon Woman. Directed by and starring Cheryl Dunye.
I've passed much of my free time over the past few months at home watching a mixture of classics and cheese on TCM and Hallmark, as well as French dramas on Netflix. One of my favorite films I've seen since March is The Watermelon Woman, an iconic piece of New Queer Cinema. Director Dunye plays a version of herself who becomes obsessed with “the most beautiful mammy,” a character she sees in a 1930s movie, played by an actress who she discovers is not only a fellow Philadelphian but also a lesbian. This film may be borrowed from our physical collection, but is also available to stream through Kanopy. — Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno

The Crow (R, 1994)
Often over-shadowed by the tragic on-set death of its star, The Crow is a dark, brilliantly stylized, supernatural revenge tale. The film is set in a bleak, twisted, crime-ridden city that makes Tim Burton’s Gotham look like Disney-land and it has a soundtrack packed with fantastic tracks from the alternative, industrial ,and grunge scenes of 1994. The film could survive on style alone, but it’s also funny, emotionally powerful, and hopeful. On top of that, The Crow is packed with great characters and performances, including the over-the-top villain Top Dollar played by a scenery-chewing Michael Wincott (who played a string of fantastic bad guys in the early-mid 90s) and the titular character played by the late Brandon Lee, who conveys the anguish of losing his love with such raw feeling. While there are moments the film feels dated, I am consistently surprised at how well it stands up today and highly recommend it. Available to stream on Hoopla. — Josh Carlson

Hellboy (PG-13, 2004)
Hellboy, directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Ron Perlman, isn’t a perfect film but as far as comic-book adaptations go, it is solid and a fun supernatural action movie. Perlman nails the titular character created by Mike Mignola, who by the time the film came out had over a decade of comics written about him, including all of his mannerisms and humor. The overall story matches up fairly well with the first two arcs of the Hellboy comics. Del Toro, known for gorgeously visual sci-fi/horror/fantasy films, fully commits to the look of the monstrous characters and manages to include much of the comic’s smashing up of the occult, mythology, and folklore. If you’re looking for a fun, well executed supernatural action flick, Hellboy is a good choice. Just ignore the recent 2019 reboot staring David Harbour, the less said about that the better. This film may be borrowed from our physical collection, but it is also available to stream on Hoopla.

Intrigued by the character and the world of Hellboy, or like the movie? Hoopla also has the entire collection of Hellboy comics, start with Hellboy Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction, which the movie draws a lot from. — Josh Carlson

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